Why focus on non-timber forest products in the bioeconomy?
The non-timber forest product paradox is alive and well: while these products are part of the lives and livelihoods of billions of people across the globe, there is little product information available, and they continue to be overlooked in global and national statistics, forest policies and interventions. This chapter argues that non-timber forest products are a key to unlocking the bioeconomy, moving from a narrow subject focus on biotechnology and a narrow geographical focus on Western Europe to embracing new ways of thinking about a forest-based bioeconomy. Such reorientation is an opportunity to make the values of non-timber forest products more visible, reinvent thinking and approaches in the forest sector, and increase forests’ contributions to global challenges, including biodiversity conservation and poverty eradication. This book is a step in that direction, providing the first global attempt to think about and integrate non-timber products into a forest-based bioeconomy. The chapter ends with a brief description of the book’s contribution to the three themes of assessing bioeconomy resources and strategies, identifying and describing bioeconomic transition pathways, and presenting tools and technologies to assist transitions.