They are Non-Timber Forest products (NTFPs) - biological materials other than timber that are extracted from forests for human use.
Such products have always constituted a large part of the forest economy in developing countries. In the Amazon Basin, WWF is giving NTFP production a much-needed push.
The benefits of NTFPs
Many of the NTFP production systems provide ecological services that are similar to those offered by natural forests. Moreover, sometimes the NTFP system is the only forested environment in an area, and so provides a refuge for wildlife. NTFPs also reduce incentives to convert forests for cattle ranching and soy.
How WWF helps
WWF-Brazil supports communities of the Chico Mendes Extractive Reserve and the Association of Local Residents and Producers of the Project of Santa Quitéria Settlement (AMPAESQ) to implement multiple-use forest management focused on NTFP production. The aim is that this will slow down the continuous expansion of cattle-ranching.
We are also
Raising the capacity of organisations and cooperatives to access markets and do business. This is achieved by promoting capacity-building in finance and administration skills as well as providing initial funds ("cash flow" money);
Prospecting markets for NTFPs locally and regionally;
Generating information on costs of production to better determine market prices;
Establishing a NTFP network of NTFP producers and supportive institutions; and
Supporting technical discussions among institutions working with NTFPs in Acre and the Southwestern Amazon to propose and influence public policies to provide more opportunities to community forestry.
Following the establishment of the NTFP Working Group, a first draft of a State Decree on NTFPs regulating its management and commercialization has been produced.
WWF target species for NTFPs in Brazil
Açai (Euterpe precatoria) is one of the most popular NTFPs throughout the Brazilian Amazon due to the variety of products it offers, including a popular juice. The fruits of this species is sold and processed into a thick, juice concentrate commonly referred to locally as vinho. This concentrate is generally consumed in two ways: adding sugar and manioc (Manihot esculenta) flour and eaten with a spoon, or by adding sugar and water, and consumed as a beverage. Açaí concentrate is also used to make ice cream and popsicles. The heart of the palm is greatly appreciated in the markets of south Brazil, and its seeds are used for handcrafts.
Jarina (Phythelephas sp.), also called Ivory plant, produces a white hard fruit which can be used for many kinds of handcrafts, jewellery and buttons, among others. Although well known, and with good markets in Amazon countries such as Peru and Ecuador, in Brazil the market is still weak, but with good potential for expansion.
Murmurú (Astrocarium murmuru) seeds are covered by oil that can be used for cooking or soap. The seeds can also be used for handcrafts.
Patauá (Oenocarpus bataua) is appreciated by local people for the pulp which is used for juice, like açai. Seeds are used for handcrafts.