What are NTFPs?
The term NTFP was first used in 1989, for “all biological materials other than timber, which are extracted from forests for human services.” However, over the years, NTFPs are more and more seen as “sustainably extracted biological materials”, and a discussion has arisen as to whether a new term should include certain sustainably harvested timber-based products as well, like bamboo- and rattan-based products and woodcarving.

NTFPs are harvested and sometimes processed by the local population, giving them an income based on a sustainable activity. By investing in processing and marketing these products and monitoring their sustainable production and sale, significant contributions can be made to the livelihood of the local population, without harming the natural environment.

Sometimes it can even boost conservation, for example in the case of harvesting low volumes of aquarium fish, such as the highly valued catfish. This will confront the local population with the need for keeping the rivers clean. The same applies to other NTFPs such as birds and other animals, medicinal plants, crab wood (for its oil), mushrooms and fruit.


Generating a sustainable income through NTFPs is not a new concept and it has been the focus of a lot of development projects over the past decade, because it is seen as an effective way of combining conservation efforts with economic development. There are many obstacles to achieving this objective and Phase 1 of GSI identified the pitfalls associated with developing NTFPs.

In December 2003, the report "Commercial Non-Timber Forest Products of the Guiana Shield" was published. It was the first time that such a detailed overview of the NTFPs in the Guianan region was published and it is the result of much and intensive pioneering work by the authors. You can download the report through the Downloads section.

During the second phase of the project, we will experiment with the development and marketing of NTFPs in the selected pilot sites. We will place more information on this website as soon as the specific activities at the pilot sites are planned.{jcomments off}