The Role of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) in Poverty Alleviation and Biodiversity Conservation

Hanoi, Viet Nam, 11 June 2007 - Today an international conference on “The Role of Non-Timber Products (NTFPs) in Poverty Alleviation and Biodiversity Conservation” is being held in Hanoi. It is jointly hosted by the NTFP Sub-Sector Support Project, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), and the World Conservation Union (IUCN), The Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV), The German Technical Cooperation (gtz), CARE International, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), The Regional Community Forestry Training Center for Asia and the Pacific (RECOFTC) and The Swiss Import Promotion Programme (SIPPO).

Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) play an important role in the livelihoods of the rural poor, as a source of food, medicine, construction materials, and income. It has been estimated that there are more than 60 million highly forest-dependent people in Latin America, West Africa, and South East Asia, with an additional 400 million to 500 million people directly dependent on these natural products. Access to forest resources helps rural households diversify their livelihood base and reduce their exposure to risk. Earnings from forest products are often important as a complement to other income. Very large numbers of households generate some of their income from selling forest products, often when farm production is not enough to provide self-sufficiency year round. Income from forest products is often used to purchase seeds, hire labour for cultivation, or generate working capital for trading activities. For the poorest households, NTFPs can play a critical role in providing both food and income.

While there is growing appreciation of the importance of NTFPs for rural households, especially of the very poor, there are concerns about the potential impact of NTFP collection on biodiversity. A number of critical questions are often raised: Under what conditions can NTFPs, both plants and animals, be sustainably harvested? Can on-farm production of NTFPs result in improved biodiversity conservation? Does commercialization of NTFPs result in over-harvesting? What is needed for markets to be pro-poor? Are attempts to develop NTFPs for Poverty Alleviation really reaching the poorest of the poor? To what extent are these attempts impacting biodiversity conservation? This conference will explore these questions, identify successful initiatives and businesses that strive to be both pro-poor and pro-biodiversity, and determine what are the critical elements for success.

The Conference has brought together researchers, practitioners, and entrepreneurs from Asia and other regions who are involved in NTFP initiatives, including successful commercial enterprises that provide opportunities to address poverty reduction while maintaining biodiversity. Participants share methodologies, approaches, product and market information and other lessons learned from NTFP development and conservation initiatives. The trade fair on the third day of the conference will provide an opportunity for NTFP producers to display their products and meet potential buyers.

For more information, please contact:
Sarah Webster,IUCN Viet Nam
Tel: (84) 4 7261575/6 Ext. 133 ; Mobile: (84) 904 663 702 ; Fax: (84) 4 7261561, Email:

Nguyen Bich Hue, Communications Coordinator, IUCN Viet Nam
Tel: +844 7261575/6 ext. 124, Mobile:

The World Conservation Union (IUCN)

The World Conservation Union is the world’s largest conservation network. The Union brings together 84 States, 108 government agencies, more than 800 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and some 10,000 scientists and experts from 181 countries in a unique worldwide partnership. The Union’s mission is to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable. The World Conservation Union is a multicultural, multilingual organisation with 1000 staff located in 62 countries. Its headquarters are in Gland, Switzerland.

For more information on IUCN Viet Nam, please visit:

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