Non-timber forest products in communal forests and savannas in Suriname - Lic. Sofie Ruysschaert, BOF/UGent


More than 90 % of Suriname’s surface (total area 14.8 million ha) is covered with forest. Over the last decades, several industrial activities, shifting cultivation and non-sustainable selective logging have had a lot of negative impact on this forest. The Surinamese government has earmarked 4 million ha as production forest that will be exploited through concessions and communal forests. The primary objective of the latter production forests is commercial timber production and harvest of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs). According to the Surinamese forest law (1992), the communal forests are specifically assigned to local communities. Already before 2003, the Ministry of Natural Resources started a forestry policy development process in line with international standards. In June 2005 the ‘National Forestry Policy of Suriname’ was officially published. This report mentions the necessity of more science-based information about the kind of NTFP presence, abundance, use and importance for local communities (e.g. for NTFPs occurring in communal forests). These data are necessary for an adequate implementation of a sustainable forest management in consultation with local villages and authorities. In this context, a NTFP-research project was established within a cooperation agreement between the Centre for Agricultural Research in Suriname (CELOS) and Ghent University (UGent).

Two communities were selected for the in-depth NTFP-research, i.e. Powakka, an Amerindian village situated in the northeast of Suriname, and the Maroon communities of Brownsweg. To assess the abundance, biodiversity and importance of the botanical NTFPs used in these communities, we conducted semi-structured interviews, household surveys and plant collections, whereas we also sampled a number of outlined plots in different vegetation types in the local communal forests. Botanical NTFPs are defined here as all wild plant products harvested from the forest or other natural and man-made vegetation types, except for industrial timber.

The results of this research project will be published soon in different parts.