• conservation;
  • forest;
  • knowledge sharing;
  • NTFPs (non-timber forest products);
  • policy;
  • tribal


A precise non-timber forest products (NTFPs) policy can play an important role in the preservation of the forest resource base. By promoting systematic and sustainable harvesting of forest products, the exploitation of forest resources can be reduced and the socio-economic status of marginal forest dwellers can also be improved, which will subsequently reduce illegal timber harvesting. In India, brief guidelines for the harvesting of NTFPs are placed in the Joint Forest Management resolution. However, these guidelines are not equally effective in all states because of micro-level geophysical variances, forest–human relationships and the characteristics of the forests. Therefore, some south Indian states such as Tamil Nadu, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh have developed their own NTFP harvesting policy for the sustainable management of forests through the socio-economic enhancement of forest dwellers. However, in West Bengal the central government's guidelines are still followed. This paper examines the need for a precise NTFP harvesting policy for the management of forests in West Bengal through the socio-economic improvement of forest fringe tribal communities. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment