Ecological and Economic Sustainability of Non-Timber Forest Products in Post-Conflict Recovery -MDPI
Updated: May 5
Non-timber forest products have often been held out as potential tools for conservation and sustainable development, but sustainability assessments are frequently difficult and time-consuming, especially in conflict areas. Thus, rapid assessments can be useful in providing a broad overview of the harvesting system in order to generate meaningful conservation or development recommendations. Here, we use rapid assessment methodology, including semi-structured interviews and direct observations, to examine the frankincense harvesting system in Somaliland in 2010 and again in 2016 and 2017. We identified significant levels of overharvesting, driven by a breakdown of the traditional management system. Demand for resin and resin prices increased dramatically from 2010 to 2017, at the same time as the tree populations were declining, resource tenure security was weakening, drug use was increasing, and the supply chain was becoming more complex. These factors combine to incentivize short-term unsustainable practices, and the lack of traceability and transparency prevents international buyers from meaningfully engaging with the system. However, new technologies and approaches being employed mean that buyers will soon be able to clearly direct their purchasing in order to incentivize sustainable practices and purchase resin in an ethical manner.