Combining Non-Timber Forest Product Extraction and Selective Logging: Can it increase profits on Programme for Belize's lands?

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Master of Natural Resources Professional Papers (North Carolina State University. College of Natural Resources)

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North Carolina State University. College of Natural Resources


Deason, Ginger. Master of Natural Resources International Resources Technical Option. Combining Non-Timber Forest Product Extraction and Selective Logging: Can it Increase Profits on Programme for Belize’s Lands? By the end of the 20th century, the economic importance of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) and the possibilities they provide for conserving the tropical rainforest were in the forefront of many management plans and ecological studies. Bayleaf palm (Sabal mauritiiformis) is one such NTFP found in the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area (RBCMA) of northwestern Belize. Recent studies have found that there are ecologically sustainable ways to harvest bayleaf and that there are commercial markets for bayleaf in Belize. Programme for Belize (PfB), owner of the RBCMA, has zoned areas for NTFP extraction but has not begun harvest of bayleaf. This study considers whether bayleaf harvest would be more feasible if it were combined on the same land as selective logging. The idea of combining selective timber harvesting with NTFP extraction in the same area is not new. Programme for Belize includes selective logging as a part of its management plan and could possibly extract bayleaf from selectively logged lands with little added disturbance of the surrounding forest, and with minimal added costs. PfB’s access to market and the current and future profitability of bayleaf harvest are crucial in determining if its extraction would be feasible. This study was undertaken to determine if harvest of bayleaf from timber extraction zones could increase PfB’s profits. The principal elements analyzed were added costs, demand, and market structure in order to (i) develop an estimate of the costs and revenues from bayleaf harvest by PfB, (ii) assess current and potential future trends in the demand for bayleaf, and (iii) determine the current structure of the bayleaf market and identify any obstacles to PfB’s participation in the market. Costs such as stock surveys, labor and transportation, were determined through observations and informal interviews. Surveys were conducted to get opinions on bayleaf and its demand. The market structure was evaluated through open-ended interviews, observations, and survey results. It was determined that a stock survey of bayleaf palm on the RBCMA could be added to the timber stock survey with minimal additional costs. Moreover, labor costs would be minimal. Depending on how PfB transports bayleaf from Hill Bank Field Station to the market, however, the transportation costs could be extremely high. Surveys conducted of three different groups revealed that most people believe bayleaf is increasing in demand (especially in the tourism sector), but is becoming less abundant. The opinions expressed in the surveys showed people believe that the price of bayleaf has been increasing over the past five years and will continue to increase in the future. The majority of the people surveyed also believe that certification of bayleaf as harvested sustainable could be beneficial in protecting the species, yet most lodges surveyed would be unwilling to pay more for leaf that was certified sustainable. A thorough review and assessment of the market structure of bayleaf for tourism operations indicated that there are two main markets within reach of PfB: the inland market and the island market. The inland market is composed of contractors, usually working with family members to harvest and transport the leaf, and has few players and points of exchange of leaf. The island market, on the other hand, has many players, many points of exchange, and more available options for transport and purchase. With a rise in use in tourism for tourist facilities, bayleaf could become a valuable commodity on the Belizean market. Currently, its price does not fetch enough for PfB to make a generous profit. However, PfB could possibly foster healthy community ties by allowing locals to enter the RBCMA and cut bayleaf for a small fee and still make a small profit. This would have to be carefully planned, as there could also be negative consequences (i.e. increased poaching on RBCMA). Furthermore, if the populations of bayleaf dwindle and the tourism sector continues to grow, attitudes of lodge owners might change making certification of bayleaf an option and increasing the price of the leaf as well as the profit margin for PfB.



non-timber forest products, selective logging, bayleaf palm, Belize