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Forest Certification of Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) in India: Study of NTFP harvest of Rhododendrons in Western Himalayas for its Sustainable Use
* 1 , 2
1  Research Scholar, TERI SAS
2  Associate Professor, TERI SAS
Academic Editor: Lotus Guo


Forest certification has emerged as an efficient tool for using important and economically viable forest products and linking them to the sustainable forest management practices ensuring their sustainable utilization. It includes social, economic, and environmental facets, thereby helping reduce the anthropogenic pressures on the forest-based resources and maintaining forest ecosystem services. The Western Himalayas offers a range of Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) that are utilized by the locals providing various livelihood opportunities to the native Himalayan communities. Rhododendron species belonging from the genera of Ericaceae family, is one such economically viable NTFP in the Himalayas which is harvested extensively for its varied medicinal and economic benefits. Among the many products made from the Rhododendrons like jams, juice, tea and local beverages, the harvest of R.arboreum which is found at an altitude of 1500m-3000m in the Himalayan region with bright red-pinkish flowers remains prominent as it provides a huge market value in the study region. As the current trends on forest certification is gaining increasing momentum and its positive impact on people, supply chains (timber and non-wood products), and ecosystem services is rising in both from developed and developing countries, our study caters to the need of forest certification for the harvest of Rhododendrons as a Non-timber forest product (NTFP) in Western Himalayas. The study lies in exploring the case of forest certification for the Rhododendrons in Western Himalayas through the principles, criteria and indicators of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) which is globally one of the most leading forest certification agency, as certification for Rhododendrons can be used as an efficient mechanism for encouraging sustainable forest practices which allows consumers to gain benefit from the forests without influencing the health of the forest-based resources in the long run.

Keywords: Forest Certification, Himalayas; NTFPs, Rhododendrons; Sustainability