Southern Forests: a Journal of Forest Science

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The socioeconomic status of the non-timber forest product subsector in Swaziland

CS Dlamini, CJ Geldenhuys


A wide spectrum of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) generally has a remarkable contribution to the household economy in rural areas. Most communities make a living either through their domestic or commercial use. The objective of this study was to review the current status of the NTFP sector and further compile an up-to-date list of major use categories of NTFPs. The review of the national study on the NTFP sector indicate an average annual value of the selected NTFPs groups of between US$19.8 million and US$79 million with a median value of US$49.38 million. The most important group from an economic point of view is medicinal plants with an average annual value of US$32.1 million, followed by fuel wood with an estimated annual value of  US$13.5 million. In the natural accounting study it was revealed that  the contribution of natural forests and woodlands in flow benefits, including the highlighted NTFPs, was equivalent to 2.2% of the total GDP, 20% of agriculture’s GDP and 439% of the contribution of forestry  reported in the national accounts for 2000. This current study reviewed past national, regional and international studies and developed a new list of 19 NTFP use categories subdivided into direct, indirect and intermediate uses. Subsequently, a matrix of commonly used botanical NTFPs was designed and includes most highly preferred species such as Sclerocarya birrea, Bauhinia galpinii, Berchemia zeyheri, Dichrostachys cinerea and others. However, the study concluded that there is still a profound lack of information on the status and total value of NTFPs in Swaziland and recommended that government, NGOs, the private sector, communities, and other interested and affected parties (including resource users) should work together to conduct research in order to generate, compile and disseminate information on the quantitative and qualitative statistical data on NTFPs, their socioeconomic uses and ecological and environmental values.

Keywords: economic valuation; plant species; sustainable management; use categories

Southern Forests 2009, 71(4): 311–318

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