REVISITING THE PARADIGM AND THE PARADOX OF NON-TIMBER FOREST PRODUCTS HARVEST: PERSPECTIVES IN THE CONTEXT OF AGRICULTURE EXPANSION
Keywords:NTFP, large-scale industrial agriculture, land sharing, land sparing
AbstractIn 2011, the human population reached 7 billion. It is projected to continue growing in this century and two thirds of people will reside in urban areas by 2050. To attend the growing food demand, cropland and grazing lands are spreading over wildernesses, especially in the tropics. Opportunities to preserve nature and human diversity may be limited in the future and intensified conflicts with food production are predicted for the next decades. Here, we revisit the concept of non-timber forest products' harvest -- an economic activity that was considered an environmental and social paradigm by the end of the XXth century, and then was criticized to fail to preserve biodiversity and to reduce poverty. In the present and future context of conflicting interests regarding nature conservation and food production, the harvest of NTFPs emerges, not as a paradigm or a paradox. It is a way to produce food and raw materials at the same time that it allies economic, ecological and cultural values. It is aligned with other environmentally friendly activities (such as agroecology) and the land-sharing strategy. It is not exempted of environmental or social impacts, such as overexploitation, biodiversity loss or failure to alleviate poverty. But usually, and specially when well managed, it preserves ecosystem services and human diversity, grant livelihoods and food/raw-materials sovereignty.