Future of non-timber forest products trade
March 20th, 2014 | Technology Times | No Comments
Majority of rural people in Pakistan are utilising various non-timber forest products in one way or the other. However, due to the current climate change scenario, lack of awareness regarding the proper collection, preservation, use and marketing of non-timber forest products, we are losing some of the valuable biodiversity. Special emphasis should be given to the conservation of plant species in the form of herbal gardens and gene banks
NON-TIMBER FOREST products are non-wood secondary forest products obtained from forests. They are also defined as “the resources that are supplied by wood land forests except harvesting of timber”. They include non-domesticated animals, medicinal plants, honey, nuts, berries, foliage, oil, forage, peat, seed cones, cork, barks, burls, maple syrup, cinnamon, tree resins, ginseng and rubber, etc.
God has gifted Pakistan with diverse climatic conditions supporting the growth of nearly 6000 higher plant species. On the basis of climate, altitude and types of plants, vegetation of Pakistan has been divided into five broad categories such as dry tropical forest vegetation, dry subtropical, sub mountainous vegetation, dry temperate forest vegetation, moist temperate forest vegetation and sub alpine and alpine vegetation. A large variety of products are obtained from these forest types which are crucial for the survival and economy of rural and poor population of country.
Some of the important non-timber forest products obtained by local population from wild are given below.
MEDICINAL HERBS: Medicinal plants are used as a major source of drugs for the treatment of many health disorders throughout Pakistan. The country is host to more than 600 highly medicinal plant species. These medicinal plants are a valuable source of income for the local people in rural areas. According to a research report published by Z.K. Shinwari (2010), 22 species of medicinal plants worth Rs 14.733 million were traded in Pakistan in 1990 while in 2002, this value rose to more than Rs. 122 million. In 1990, as many as 95 plant species were consumed worth Rs.36 million while in 2002, medicinal plants worth Rs. 218 million were consumed with a six-fold increase. The trade of medicinal plants is increasing rapidly. However, the current digits are far low than the trade of medicinal plants in other countries like our neighbours India and China. The condition is such that during 2008-2009 Pakistan imported spices of $33.29 million from India.
HONEY: Honey is an important non-timber forest product of Pakistan. In the country, total production of honey is nearly 4,650 tons per year from both domesticated and wild bees. Honey is collected from wild bees hives and is an important source of income and food for people living in far flung areas of Pakistan. In Kalash valley of Chitral (KP), bees are reared by local people in traditional wall hives which are fixed in their houses. More than 1500 kgs of honey is collected annually by local people from both domesticated and wild bees. Nearly, 50 per cent of the honey is consumed in the local market and the remaining is traded to national markets in Peshawar, Lahore and Islamabad.
MUSHROOMS: Mushrooms are another non-timber forest product collected by local people from wild. The most common mushrooms traded in Pakistan are Morchella, Oyster mushroom and dessert mushroom, etc. Majority of these mushrooms are collected by children and women. The mushrooms are sold to dealers in dried form which are exported to big cities and used in making of herbal medicines and as flavouring agents. Morchella esculenta is the most expensive mushroom and is an important source of income to poor people in Waziristan, Chitral, Swat, Hazara Division and Kashmir. Pakistan exports mushrooms to other countries such as France, UAE, Saudi Arabia, UK and USA. During 1999-2000, the export of mushrooms was around Rs.78, 640,000 which showed 70 per cent decrease in year 2000-2001.
WILD NUTS AND FRUITS: Chilghoza is an expensive dry fruit in the local market of Pakistan. It is found in the dry temperate forests of Pakistan and is usually associated with Deodar, Blue Pine and Oak. The total production of blue pine in country is worth of Rs. 38 million per year. Other dry fruits like Wild Olive, Figs, Mulberry, Jhar Ber, Gurgura, Annar Dana, Grapes, Walnut and Pesta are commonly traded in Pakistan. The business of dry fruits remains at peak during winter season.
OTHER PRODUCTS: Other non-timber forest products obtained from wild and traded in Pakistan include bark of walnut, baskets made from young branches of Tamarix, Dates and Mazari Palm, shoes from the leaves of Mazari Palm in Balochistan and Waziristan are also traded in the country.
A vast majority of rural people in Pakistan are utilizing various non-timber forest products in one way or the other. However, due to the current climate change scenario, lack of awareness regarding the proper collection, preservation, use and marketing of non-timber forest products, we are losing some of the valuable biodiversity. According to a study, out of 709 endangered plant species of the world, nearly 64 species are endemic to Pakistan. Therefore, it is necessary for the government to start a public awareness campaign regarding importance of non-timber forest products in the countrys economy. Special emphasis should be given on conservation of plant species in the form of herbal gardens and gene banks. The local people should be trained for proper collection, cultivation, processing and marketing of these valuable products.
Published in: Volume 05 Issue 11
Short Link: https://www.technologytimes.pk/?p=11317