Today, the world is challenged by a series of biological security problems such as serious environmental deterioration, dramatic reduction of forests, loss of water and soil, as well as damage of biodiversity. Since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), Rio de Janeiro in 1992, people's awareness on the conservation and sustainable management of forest has been greatly increased. However, the natural forest conservation projects met many new challenges and problems. Because most natural conservation area locates in remote and poverty mountainous region, the livelihood of local people largely rely on the utilization and development of timber resources from the forest, the logging ban may greatly affect the local people's income sources. This problem has now become a focus of sustainable management of forests. How to balance between forest conservation and local economic and livelihood development, and achieve sustainability in both aspects, the whole world is looking for solutions. Up to date, the utilization and development of non-timber-forest-products (NTFPs) is identified and considered to be one of the most important feasible solution for forest sustainable management and local community sustainable development.
The NTFPs can be divided primarily into two categories: one is non-wood-forest-products, including food and oil from trees, medical materials, wild flowers, edible fungus, forest chemical products, wild vegetables and fruits, poultry and livestock under forest, bamboo and rattan, etc.; another is resources derived from the forests, for example, forest eco-tourism and leisure developed from the special natural sceneries and geographical features of the forests, should also be considered NTFPs that may be utilized and developed. In China, there are may successful stories of NTFP utilization and development, for example, in the forest area of Northeast China which locates in the temperate zone, local farmers raise deers and frogs, plant ginsengs, edible fungus; in South China, farmers in forest area develop wild fruits, medical materials, wild flowers, vegetables, bamboos and rattans. All these activities are carried out without damaging the existing forest resources. On one hand, NTFPs provided a solution to the local economic development, on another hand, these activities greatly improved the forest conservation.
China's NTFPs development research started in 1989. For example, China researchers developed Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum), the famous antioxidant medicine; and Anji Baicha (Camellia Sinensis), which is a special quality tea, which nowadays has become a famous brand. Especially, the village of Baisha in Lin'an County, Zhejiang Province, which had been taking the advantage of local NTFPs and natural sceneries in developing eco-tourism and leisure products, has now become a well-known affluent eco-village. These successful experiences had provided models for other developing countries.
This workshop is dedicated to promoting the exchange of NTFPs development technologies and products through providing a platform for China and the other developing countries to learn from each other.