Biometrics of NTFP Inventory

Project Title

Review of the biometrics of non-timber forest product inventory

Geographic Focus



Funder Forest Research Programme (ZF0077) of the Department for International Development, UK



There is a need for biometrically sound NTFP data to underpin sustainable management and therefore dependant livelihoods. Unfortunately the biological aspects of NTFP management have often been overlooked. In May 1999 the Forest Research Programme (DFID, UK) commissioned a review of NTFP resource inventories in order to determine their biometric rigour and identify researchable constraints in this aspect of sustainable management.

The study was conducted as a desk review of anglophone literature concerned with NTFP resource assessment. The review examined the methods developed for assessing biodiversity and ethnobiology and described them with regard to their applicability to NTFP resource assessment. Methods for assessing resources developed by the social sciences were also appraised with regard to best practice. Quantitative methods for resource assessment were outlined for determining resource abundance, product yield and productivity. The uses of these data for determining sustainable harvesting levels and monitoring were reviewed. The special case of the use of indicators for monitoring compliance with certification standards was also taken into consideration. Based on the review, a number of priority issues and opportunities were raised and recommendations made for a programme of research to address them.

The results of the review were presented in an ETFRN international workshop hosted by FAO in Rome on the 4-5th May 2000. The workshop agreed that the review was of interest to a wider audience and it was edited into a FAO NWFP series publication and translated into French and Spanish for international distribution.

The workshop concluded that there is:

  • A need for increased awareness of the desirability of the sound assessment of NWFP populations and dynamics when considering the utilisation of these resources
  • A clearly expressed need from field workers for NWFP inventory methods that are simple and easy to use but are at the same time adequate for the determination of harvesting levels
  • Further research to develop inventory methods and protocols for NWFPs
  • An urgent need for advice on existing NWFP inventory and analysis methods for field workers

Following on from the workshop, FAO commissioned further work on guidelines for NWFP assessment.



ZF0077 Report - The biometrics of non-timber forest product resource assessment: A review of current methodology, April 2000


ETFRN/FAO/DFID Workshop, 4-5 May 2000, FAO, Rome


Workshop Report

PDF format


Wong J.L.G., Thornber K. and Baker N. (2001) Resource assessment of non wood forest products: Experience and biometric principles. NWFP Series 13, FAO, Rome.




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