Harvesting patterns of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) normally vary within and between communities and villages adjacent to natural woodlands. The objective of this study was to undertake user surveys to determine the actual quantities of harvested and utilized medicinal NTFPs, and to do an economic valuation of their direct use values. Methods used included literature research, community consultations, household visits and interviews, household profiles and economic valuation. Findings of the study indicated that use of medicinal NTFPs was significantly different between sites in quantities harvested per household, in quantities harvested per household between communities, in quantities harvested per household between households within sites, between sites in value per household, and in value per household between communities. Harvesting is all year round or when necessary over 1 to 9 months. About 65 species were reported as preferred across the four study sites. The key factors determining the variability in harvested quantities and values per household are: the wealth status, variability of species per site, season and duration of harvesting, commercialization, number of accessible natural woodlands within a site, need and demand, the household profile with regard to gender and age, and farm gate price differences.
Key words: Natural woodland, sustainable, economic valuation, user surveys, non-use values, resource assessment, quantities, households.
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