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Markets Drive the Specialization Strategies of Forest Peoples

Manuel Ruiz-Pérez, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
Brian Belcher, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
Ramadhani Achdiawan, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
Miguel Alexiades, University of Kent at Canterbury
Catherine Aubertin, IRD-Orléans
Javier Caballero, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Bruce Campbell, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
Charles Clement, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia
Tony Cunningham, World Wildlife Fund/UNESCO/Kew People and Plants Initiative
Alfredo Fantini, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina
Hubert de Foresta, Institut de recherche pour le développement
Carmen García Fernández, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
Krishna H Gautam, Hokkaido University
Paul Hersch Martínez, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia
Wil de Jong, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
Koen Kusters, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
M. Govindan Kutty, Sylva conS
Citlalli López, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
Maoyi Fu, Chinese Academy of Forestry
Miguel Angel Martínez Alfaro, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
T.K. Raghavan Nair, Sylva conS
Ousseynou Ndoye, CIFOR-Cameroon
Rafael Ocampo
Nitin Rai
Martin Ricker, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Kate Schreckenberg, Overseas Development Institute
Sheona Shackleton, Rhodes University
Patricia Shanley, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
Terry Sunderland, African Rattan Research Programme
Yeo-Chang Youn, Seoul National University


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Engagement in the market changes the opportunities and strategies of forest-related peoples. Efforts to support rural development need to better understand the potential importance of markets and the way people respond to them. To this end, we compared 61 case studies of the commercial production and trade of nontimber forest products from Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The results show that product use is shaped by local markets and institutions, resource abundance, and the relative level of development. Larger regional patterns are also important. High-value products tend to be managed intensively by specialized producers and yield substantially higher incomes than those generated by the less specialized producers of less managed, low-value products. We conclude that commercial trade drives a process of intensified production and household specialization among forest peoples.

Key words

Commercialization, forest use, market development, nontimber forest products, poverty, resource management, specialization

Copyright © 2004 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087