Ecological Implications of Harvesting Non-Timber Forest Products

Ecological Implications of Harvesting Non-Timber Forest Products


This article examines 70 case studies on the ecological effects of harvesting plant-species NTFPs in an attempt to draw broader conclusions for both forest resource management and future research.

Conclusions & Takeaways

Overall, the impact of harvest depended greatly on the type of plant part harvested (i.e. the removal of fruit or seeds will impact a population and ecosystem very differently compared to the harvest of an entire individual, which will also be different from the harvest of a latex, of bark, or of leaves), on the life history of the species, and on variation in environmental conditions and human harvest and management practices. Most studies looked at either individuals or populations, and very few examined either communities or ecosystems. Also nearly 40% of the studies examined the harvest of palms, even though an enormous variety of plant species are harvested as NTFPs. Thus there is a need for more research on the impact of harvest practices at multiple ecological levels (from genes to ecosystem), a need for more long-term studies, and a need to study other forms of NTFPs such as lianas, vines and plant exudates. The few studies that have examined the effects of NTFP harvest on ecological communities suggest that impacts may be significant. However, the impact of NTFP harvest on ecosystem processes such as nutrient cycling seems to vary greatly depending on both temporal and spatial variation in environmental conditions, as well as the specifics of the harvest practices.



Ticktin T. The ecological implications of harvesting non-timber forest products. Journal of Applied Ecology. 2004;41:11–21. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2664.2004.00859.x.


  • Department of Botany, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu HI, USA