NTFPs stand for non-timber forest products. NTFPs also referred to as minor forest products, and secondary forest products, are Non-wood forest products consisting of goods of biological origin other than wood, derived from the forest, other woodlands, and trees outside forests(FAO,1999). The core theme is that the product of interest is of human use. On the basis of the utility of the product, it is broadly grouped as :
- Plant origin
- Animals origin.
These were considered minor forest products in past and concerns of local people only because of their less contribution to national GDP as compared to timber. Years ago, there was a command and controlled approach to forest resources management as result, however, led to heavy destruction and degradation of forests which was just opposite of what was planned as people of hilly and mountains mostly depend on it for subsistence and have less/no alternatives.
As a result of altitudinal variation, Nepal is rich in NTFPs with many products having human consumption as well as industrial importance. In previous decades, government, conservation and development agencies, and non-government organizations have encouraged the marketing and sale of NTFPs as a way of boosting income for poor people in the tropics and encouraging the forest conservation
Importance of NTFPs
- Out of 7000 species of vascular plants, more than 2000 species are NTFPs and among them, 1,624 species are estimated for medicinal use (MoFSC, 2012) so there is high scope.
- The Government of Nepal has kept 30 species in priority, of which 12 are for commercial cultivation and market promotion.
- NTFPs subsector contribution is estimated at approximately 5% of the national GDP (15% by the Forest sector) in Nepal.
- Have attracted global interest(government, NGOs, INGOs,)
- Have great potential to alleviate poverty.
- It has also used values and provided livelihoods to many poor rural families of Nepal (Rai, 2003).
- It is a key component of the rural household economy.
- NTFPs play important role in food security and nutrition.
- It helps in the treatment of a variety of diseases.
- It creates employment for people and opportunities for the establishment of NTFPs-based enterprises.
- It helps in foreign currency exchange
- It also supports biodiversity and other conservation objectives (FAO, 1995).
- It has versatile properties and is also used in craftwork.