OF NON-WOOD FOREST PRODUCTS
Non-wood forest products (NWFPs) have an important role in the rural economy
and also provide benefits of considerable importance at national level.
These products play a very significant role in the livelihood of over
4 million people in Sri Lanka. These products create a major impact on
the social and economic conditions of the village communities by providing
a diverse array of materials which enrich and diversify the rural life.
The knowledge, skills, social customs and are traditions in relation to
NWFPs have been passed from one generation to the next and form part of
A survey in just one area showed that nearly 200 tree species were used
by the adjacent communities. In this paper, an attempt has been made to
categorize the various NWFPs available in Sri Lanka. The most important
ones are medicinal plants, Rattan/ bamboo, the products of hunting, bee
honey, grazing etc., and are dealt with in detail in the paper.
Around 40% of the rural population in the Dry Zone is forest dependent
and they derive some benefits from NWFPS. The annual income from NWFPs
per forest dependent household in some parts of the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka,
is around Rs.15,000. A most important single activity in the Dry Zone
is shifting cultivation which provides an annual income of around Rs.10,000
per family. Kitul tapping is the most significant NWFP in the wet zone
and it contributes over 70% of the total income of the households engaged
in this activity.
Lack of policy guidelines, a shrinking resource base and inadequate knowledge
on cultivation, management, harvesting, processing and storage are identified
as the major issues which hinder the development of the NWFP sector. Major
reforms in policy, legislation and management strategies together with
a coordinated effort in research on cultivation, utilization and product
development should be undertaken for sustainable development of the NWFP
sector in Sri Lanka. This sector could be developed to form a major force
in the poverty alleviation programme in Sri Lanka, specially in the rural
Department of Forestry and Environmental Science,
of Sri Jayewardenepura,Sri Lanka. 1999. All rights reserved.