According to a study published by CIFOR in December 2016; although tropical forest products frequently become over-exploited, only few studies explicitly address the dynamics of degradation in response to socio-economic drivers.
‘Why do forest products become less available? A pan-tropical comparison of drivers of forest-resource degradation‘ addresses this gap by analysing the factors driving changes in tropical forest products in the perception of rural smallholder communities. Using the poverty and environment network global dataset, the study looks at recently perceived trends of forest product availability considering firewood, charcoal, timber, food, medicine, forage and other forest products.
The study looked at a pan-tropical sample of 233 villages with forest access. The results show that 90 per cent of the villages experienced declining availability of forest resources over the last five years according to the informants. Timber and fuelwood together with forest foods were featured as the most strongly affected, though with marked differences across continents.
The growing local use of forest resources is seen as the main culprit for the decline. In villages with both growing forest resource use and immigration–vividly illustrating demographic pressures–the strongest forest resources degradation was observed, Conversely, villages with little or no population growth and a decreased use of forest resources were most likely to see significant forest-resource increases.