Harnessing the full potential of a global forest-based bioeconomy through non-timber products: Beyond logs, biotechnology, and high-income countries

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debateResearch

An increasing number of countries are developing and implementing novel approaches to transition to a forest-based bioeconomy. These innovations present opportunities for rethinking and repositioning the forest sector in many countries, making them more relevant to key contemporary global challenges, including sustainably managing forests for biodiversity conservation, poverty alleviation, and climate change mitigation. This requires expanded scholarship and refocused interventions and policies, moving beyond current associations of bioeconomies with timber, biotechnology, and high-income countries. Harnessing the economic potentials of widely harvested, sustainably sourced, and appropriately processed non-timber products is key to full realization of a forest-based bioeconomy. In this commentary, we draw on recent scholarship to illustrate this potential across a range of countries, products, and experiences. We present evidence that forest products other than wood contribute significantly to local and national economies and contend that obstacles impeding the transition to inclusive forest-based bioeconomies can be overcome. To support development and implementation of a globally oriented functional forest-based bioeconomy, that can be pursued in different ways at the national level, research is needed to support: non-timber product integration into nominal and functional forest law and bioeconomic policies; implementation pathways that vary with priorities, e.g. integrating indigenous knowledge or focused on poverty alleviation; national-level short-listing of priority species; realizing opportunities for non-timber product, process, and functional upgrading; and implementation of standardized data collection procedures at subnational, national, and international levels.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103105
JournalForest Policy and Economics
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023

    Research areas

  • Circular economy, Environmental products, Global approach, Non-timber forest products, Policy, Research priorities

ID: 389412544