Tropical forests play a key role in the world carbon cycle and in maintaining biodiversity, but agricultural activities as well as the extraction of forest products are threatening these functions. Empirical evidence from developing countries suggests that forest products play an important role as a source of income for rural households, particularly for the rural poor. There is, however, still a lack of quantitative studies on the link between poverty and forest products. The research presented in this chapter seeks to fill the gap in general knowledge on the link between poverty, livelihood systems, and extraction of forest products. Considering as an example the vicinity of the Lore-Lindu National Park (LLNP) in Central Sulawesi/Indonesia, this chapter analyses the importance of forest products, especially for the rural poor, and identifies underlying factors which drive households into the forest. Moreover, the paper investigates similarities and differences in the use of forest products in the village of Toro, where an agreement with the national park authority on the use of forest areas exists, and in the research area at large, where such agreements did not exist.
In the vicinity of the LLNP, 76% of the households collect forest products, with firewood being the most important product. The sale of forest products contributes only 7% to the total household income of all households, with 17% of the households participating in this activity. Almost three-quarters of the income from forest products originates from the sale of rattan. Differentiating forest product income by wealth groups shows the importance of forest products, especially rattan, as a source of income for the poorest households. 21% of the total household income of the poorest households originates from the selling of forest products and 30% of these households reported to have income from forest products. Participation in the sale of forest products is influenced by the wealth of the household, the area of land owned, education, ethnicity, and access to road infrastructure.
Based on participatory mapping, the area of the village of Toro is divided into six sections for which different use options are defined. In the so-called pangale, a 20–25 years old secondary forest, forest products can be collected for home consumption, but not for sale. Our empirical results reflect these regulations. 4 years after implementation of the village agreement, the share of households collecting forest products is significantly higher in Toro than in the research area. But, the share of households which sell their products as well as the mean sales value is much lower in Toro implying lower levels of extraction. This result is strengthened by the econometric analysis, which found that the village agreement has a strong negative influence on the likelihood of selling forest products beyond other factors.