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Assessing Tropical Forests’ Contribution to Local Communities Livelihoods Using Forest Product Substitutes: A Case Study

Andrew K. Kiplagat,, John Mburu, Daniel N. Mugendi


Forests have continuously played an important role in the livelihoods of many rural households particularly in developing countries. However, very limited quantitative information exists to back this claim, yet presence of such evidence can have a far-reaching influence on the design and quality of conservation and socio-economic policies.

Based on this background, we estimate the economic value of non-timber forest products extracted from the Kakamega Forest in Western Kenya by adjacent communities for household consumption. This is accomplished through application of two economic valuation methods namely: direct pricing and substitute approaches. A random sample of 201 households was selected for the study. Data on non-timber forest types, quantities consumed, periods of consumption, the within-village retail prices of forest products, substitute commodities and their retail market prices were collected in 2006 using specifically designed questionnaires.

Results reveal that each household sampled benefits directly with an equivalent of over Kenya Shillings 21,000 (US$310) worth of forest products consumed. It further highlights major differences of value emanating from the two valuation approaches employed. The paper concludes by discussing the implication of the application of these methods in policy.


Non-timber forest products, household consumption, economic value, direct pricing approach, direct substitutes approach, Kakamega forest.

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