Keeping NTFPs in the Forest: Can certification provide an alternative to intensive cultivation?
AbstractNorth American and European florists import the leaves of various species of palms of the genus Chamaedorea to be used as foliage in floral arrangements and for use in Palm Sunday church services. Chamaedorea harvesting contributes to forest livelihoods in several regions of Mexico, the Petén region of Guatemala, and Belize. Such commercialization of NTFPs has long been advocated (as well as debated) as a means to integrate forest conservation and rural development objectives. Yet, extractive production system models and experience suggest that system dynamics are not sufficiently stable over time and space to reconcile these objectives. This paper considers NTFP certification as an intervention to promote the long-term reconciliation of integrated conservation and development objectives in a working forest context. Specifically, we consider palm harvesting in the community forest concessions of the Maya Biosphere Reserve in order to address the fundamental question: how might certification ensure that NTFP extraction remains an ecologically sustainable and economically viable source of income for communities in working forests? We consider the opportunities and challenges related to NTFP commercialization and certification, provide an overview of existing certification options, and conclude with a modest proposal for a new generation of certifications.
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