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The Value of Non- Timber Forest Products in Zambia: Indirect and Non- Use Benefits


  • Ngoma, Hambulo
  • Samboko, Paul
  • Nkonde, Chewe
  • Gumbo, Davison


The potential of a sustainable forest resource base to contribute to improved livelihoods is central in the development discourse. In sub-Saharan Africa and Zambia in particular, the missing piece in this narrative has been the availability of reliable data estimates of the extent to which forests contribute to key economic indicators such as gross domestic product (GDP). In this paper, we augment recent empirical strides that have been made in Zambia to estimate direct use values of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) by estimating the indirect and non-use values of these products. Our data are drawn from a primary contingent valuation survey of 352 households randomly selected from seven rural districts of Zambia. The survey elicited households’ willingness to pay (WTP) to preserve NTFPs for their indirect and non-use benefits (mostly ecosystem services) using the double bounded dichotomous question format. The current study addresses the following key questions: 1) What are the key indirect and non-use benefits for NTFPs in Zambia? 2) What is the economic value of the indirect and non-use benefits for NTFPs in Zambia? 3) What drives WTP to preserve NTFPs in Zambia? We highlight the key findings, conclusion and policy implications in turn. Key Findings Among interviewed households, about 60 and 30 % consider erosion control and climate regulation, respectively, as the two most important indirect-use benefits of, or ecosystem services associated with NTFPs in Zambia. On the other hand, pollination and water purification are correspondingly ranked third and fourth. We find similar results even after disaggregating the data by district and sex of the household head, and whether or not the household is environmentally aware, i.e., willing to pay to preserve NTFPs. About 60% of the respondents consider preservation of natural resources for future generations (bequest value) as the most important non-use benefit of NTFPs. The other non-use benefits of NTFPs—existence and altruistic values—are considered paramount by about 30 and 10% correspondingly of the surveyed households, respectively. These results are consistent at district level. Over time, NTFPs have become more difficult to collect or extract due to increased walking distances to points of extraction, with a marked increase in the effort and labour required to collect even small usable quantities. About 70% of the households in the sample were willing to pay to preserve NTFPs for their indirect and non-use benefits, suggesting that incentive based schemes may still have a role in conservation. Our empirical estimates of factors conjectured to drive WTP suggest that landholding size and the utilization of NTFPs are negatively associated with WTP to preserve NTFPs. Thus, non-binding land and access constraints may stifle conservation if considered in their own silos. Conversely, education level of the household head, household income, adult equivalents, distance from the homestead to the nearest main source for NTFPs, and considering the presented contingent valuation method (CVM) scenario as realistic, increases the WTP amount. Equally, considering bequest and altruistic values as most important non- use NTFP benefits relative to existence value is positively associated with the WTP amount. These findings suggest that education and environmentally friendly pro-social behaviors may be good levers for conservation. Overall, we estimate that households in the survey areas are willing to pay about ZMW164 (USD18) per hectare per year or ZMW485 (USD54) per household per year to preserve NTFPs. This translates to about USD48 million (using 2010 constant prices) at national level, giving an indicative total economic value of NTFPs of USD73 million in real terms (if we account for the direct-use benefits estimated by Dlamini and Samboko (2017)) at national level. Conclusion and Policy Implications Our main conclusion is that NTFPs have great potential to contribute to the economic wellbeing of rural households and the country in general. After accounting for the direct, indirect and non-use benefits, our conservative estimates suggest that NTFPs can potentially contribute about 0.3% to the gross domestic product in Zambia. This estimate is higher than previously thought and demonstrates, in line with extant literature, that considering only the direct use benefits underestimates the economic value of natural resources. Three main implications are as follows: Household and community engagements in natural resource management should be strengthened through education and awareness campaigns on the threats to forest resource use and how these can (should) be minimized in Zambia. This is necessary to promote environmentally friendly pro-social behavior and to create a citizenry that is environmentally aware—a necessary condition for sustainable natural resource use and management. The 0.3% potential contribution of non-timber forest products to gross domestic product should raise the impetus and fast-track implementation of sustainable forest management in Zambia, and should inform forestry policy more broadly. Because the majority of the households in the sample were willing to pay to preserve non- timber forest products implies that conservation can be enhanced with the ‘right’ incentive structures such as payments for ecosystem services. Questions on designs and modus operandi of such incentive schemes are empirical and remain the t-rex in the room.

Suggested Citation

  • Ngoma, Hambulo & Samboko, Paul & Nkonde, Chewe & Gumbo, Davison, 2019. "The Value of Non- Timber Forest Products in Zambia: Indirect and Non- Use Benefits," Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy Research Papers 303523, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics, Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security (FSP).
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:miffrp:303523
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.303523

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    Food Security and Poverty; International Development;

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