Forests are the most valuable natural resources for sustaining life on earth. They provide us with various tangible (timber, Ntfps) and intangible resources (ecosystem services).
Ecologically forests are always interacting with the environment influencing the ecosystem. Forest products are broadly classified as:
- Timber Products
- Non-timber forest products
Timber Forest Products
Timber is the processed wood of any shape and size. From its earliest history, Timber has been an important forest product due to its high economic market value and greater biomass in forests. They can be hardwood (Tropical wood-Sal, teak, ironwood, etc) or softwood (pine, fir, poplar, etc).
In Nepal Timber is used in almost all traditional construction. For example houses, ox carts, tools, and bridges while the recent use of Timber includes Transmission poles, furniture manufacture, Parquet floor production Hardboard and plywood industries, doors, windows, boxes, and even railway sleepers.
Non Timber forest products (NTFPs)
Non-timber forest products are simply defined as, “All the forest products obtained from forest except the commercial timber.” Thus, NTFP includes all goods of biological origin extracted from forests other than timber, that can be of:
- Plant origin
- Animal origin
- Mineral origin
- Services origin
- Fibres & Flosses (Silky fibers): Bamboo, rattan cane, Grasses, Hemp, Allo, Simal, etc.
- Medicinal plants: all ethnobotanical as well as herbal plants
- Edible fruits: Flowers nuts, fruits, roots, rhizomes, spices, gum, oils, honey, mushroom,s, etc.
- Exudates: Resin, Gums, Rubber, and rock exudates.
- Essential oil: lemon grass, citronellas, sandal wood, different oils, etc.
- Tan and dyes: Katha, cutch, Heena, etc.
- Bees and honey
- Lac, Shellac, silks
- Insects, Animals, Skins, Feathers, Horns, Bones, Shells Ivory, etc
- Mica, Sand, Gravel and Other Mineral, etc
- Tourism, Recreation, Wildlife Watching, etc
Despite having huge potential, Marketing and sales of Ntfps have been encouraged in Nepal only in previous decades.
Because of the disorganized and unsustainable nature of the collection, the supply of NTFPs is inconsistent and the quality is also poor. Sustainable NTFPs harvesting and management is important to generate income with livelihood enhancement.
The unscientific Ntfps harvesting system in Nepal has limited its scope to the subsistence level. Appropriate harvesting training should be given to locals and market linkage should be established within and outside the nation.
Due to a far-fetched increase in timber price, various alternatives of timber such as plastics, metal, and concrete have overtaken the market. Weak forest policy seems to be the most responsible factor in timber market dynamics. But still wood seems to be superior to plastics, metals, and concrete in most conditions.
The superiority of Wood over plastics, metals, and concrete
- Wood is a Renewable natural resource( can sustain to perpetuity)
- Wood is a versatile raw material( can be sawn, bent, nailed, screwed, carved planed, etc)
- Wood is relatively light in weight compared to concrete
- Wood is a good insulator ( doesn’t transmit heat and sound easily
- Source of minor forest products( associates products)