Get Involved
About Us
Our Members
Sustainable Harvest and Marketing of Rain Forest Products.
Edited by Mark Plotkin and Lisa Famolare. Island Press, Box 7, Dept. 5AU, Covelo, CA 95428. 1992. 325 pp. Cloth $40.00, Paper $20.00. ISBN 1-55963-168-6.

One of the greatest ecological challenges faced by modern society is the rapid destruction of the tropical rain forests. Despite warnings of global environmental destruction, loss of useful medicinal plants and other economic products, rain forest decimation has largely marched forward unabated. Sustainable Harvest and Marketing of Rain Forest Products is a collection of 33 papers from the world's leading experts on non-timber rain forest products and their potential. The contents are based on papers presented at "The Sustainable Harvest and Marketing of Rain Forest Products" conference held 20-21 June 1991 in Panama City, Panama. The conference was sponsored by Conservation International (Washington, D.C.) and the Asociaci¢n Nacional pare la Conservaci¢n de la Naturaleza (Panama). Economically and technically feasible alternatives to deforestation are presented in this important work. Five major sections are included. 1) Conserving Ethnobotanical Information; 2) The Potential of Nontimber Forest Products; 3) Palms and Their Potential; 4) Plants as Medicines; and 5) Reaching International Markets. Conclusions and recommendations, an index, and authors' affiliations are also included.

HerbalGram contributor James A. Duke wrote a paper on tropical botanical extractives, including discussions of foods, palm oils, fodder, fiber, fuel floriculture, antioxidants, beverages, chlorophyll, enzymes, food colorings, medicinals, spices, sweeteners, and vitamins. He stressed the potential for intact tropical rain forests to supply all of these materials, many of which now derive from non-renewable resources. Duke concluded that "Subsidized extractive reserves could contribute many of the products enumerated while simultaneously performing useful aesthetic, conservation, and ecological functions."

In the book's lead chapter, Richard Evans Schultes explores "Ethnobotany and technology in the Northwest Amazon: a partnership." He uses examples of inventiveness of indigenous peoples with whom he has worked, such as the preparation of arrow poisons, the use of principal sacred hallucinogens, the extraction of a carbohydrate food from a deadly poison, the complex uses of tree exudates, and the use of plants in fishing. The examples are based on Schultes' well-known personal observations which serve to emphasize the need for ethnobotanical conservation and the value of aboriginal technology to modern society.

The success of Cultural Survival's program to create alternative income for indigenous groups based on the marketing of nontimber forest products, Jason Clay, provides a detailed and practical approach to market development in his paper "Some general principles and strategies for developing markets in North American and Europe for nontimber forest products." Clay walks us through the process of identifying economically useful materials, developing relationships with the harvester, end-user manufacturer, and bringing the product to market, while providing returns to the original providers of the natural resource.

Here we have only scratched the surface of the informational treasure contained in this volume. This book is required reading for all government, industry, research, and marketing interests who develop or market plant-based products. Sustainable Harvest and Marketing of Rain Forest Products is an important work on the cutting edge of conservation and product development.

Article copyright American Botanical Council.