Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 837–858 | Cite as

Non-timber forest products certification and management: a socioeconomic study among the Kadars in Kerala, India

  • Jyotsna Krishnakumar
  • John F. Yanagida
  • V. Anitha
  • Rajeev Balakrishnan
  • Theodore J. K. Radovich


Debates on linking livelihoods and conservation through the commercialization of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) continue to hold significance considering the increasing market demand for NTFPs, its high economic value for forest-dependent communities and “enabling” neoliberal policies that are in place. Kerala, located on the southwest coast of India, flanked by the Western Ghats—a UN declared biodiversity hot spot, on its windward side, is of particular significance due to the presence of the Ayurvedic industry—a traditional medicine industry that procures 90 % of its raw materials from the wild. In addition, the presence of a resource-dependent tribal population re-affirms the economic, social and cultural significance of NTFPs. Unsustainable practices and poor co-management and marketing arrangements have rendered the sector ineffective in terms of meeting livelihood as well as conservation goals in the region. Although new approaches such as NTFP certification are being recommended for India not much has been reported on its feasibility and/or implementation challenges. Focusing on the Kadar community of Kerala, this study attempts to highlight some of the issues within the sector and using an “instrumental model”, present the benefits accrued from new strategies such as NTFP certification through quantitative and qualitative assessments. Last but not least, recommendations for the adoption of sustainable strategies in context with the existing policy environment are provided that may be broadly applicable to other forest-dependent communities in India and elsewhere.


NTFP Western Ghats NTFP certification Livelihoods Conservation Cost benefit 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jyotsna Krishnakumar
    • 1
  • John F. Yanagida
    • 2
  • V. Anitha
    • 3
  • Rajeev Balakrishnan
    • 3
  • Theodore J. K. Radovich
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Natural Resources and Environmental ManagementUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.Department of Natural Resources and Environmental ManagementUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA
  3. 3.Forestry and Human Dimensions Program Division, Forest Economics DepartmentKerala Forest Research InstituteThrissur DistrictIndia
  4. 4.Department of Tropical Plant and Soil ScienceUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA

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