IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Can We Save Tropical Forests By Harvesting Non-Timber Products?


  • Southgate, Douglas
  • Coles-Ritchie, Marc
  • Salazar-Canelos, Pablo


Many people believe that tropical forest conservation strategies for Latin America should focus on extracting non-timber products. However, very little economic research has addressed the activity. This paper presents the results of a study of vegetable ivory, or tagua (Phytelephas aequatorialis), production in western Ecuador. It is one of the largest extractive industries in the hemisphere. We found that, until recently, households collecting tagua received payments that barely covered the value of their harvest labor. By contrast, a few firms that slice tagua into disks that are exported to overseas button manufacturers have captured sizable profits. This concentration of economic returns at the top of the domestic marketing chain has been typical of non-timber extraction throughout Latin America. Processing and exporting are becoming more competitive. As a result, producer-level prices are increasing. Nevertheless, our research findings lead us to doubt that collecting non-timber products will save vast tracts of tropical forest.

Suggested Citation

  • Southgate, Douglas & Coles-Ritchie, Marc & Salazar-Canelos, Pablo, 1995. "Can We Save Tropical Forests By Harvesting Non-Timber Products?," Case Studies 11875, Environmental and Natural Resources Policy Training Project.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:epatcs:11875

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item


    Resource /Energy Economics and Policy;


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ags:epatcs:11875. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (AgEcon Search). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.