Provisioning Role of Forest Ecosystems: The Case of Non Timber Forest Products Use from Community Forests of East Khasi Hills District of Meghalaya, India
The provisioning role of community forests is critical for the survival of the indigenous communities. The paper presents the extraction and utilization of Non timber forest products (NTFPs) from the community forests of East Khasi Hill District of Meghalaya, India. A total of 216 NTFPs yielding plants belonging to 171 genera and 90 families are harvested and utilized by the communities for 17 different purposes, important uses being food, medicine and firewood. There exists ample knowledge amongst the communities in utilizing NTFPs from plants of different growth habit and life forms ranging from herbs, shrubs, trees, bamboos to mushrooms. The plant parts most commonly used are leaves, followed by fruits and stem and branches. Analysis of seasonality of NTFPs revealed that majority of the fruits and leafy vegetables used for food are available during the wet seasons. Harvesting of stem and branches and underground parts which contribute
18 and 8 percent of the harvested plant parts respectively, is a concerned from sustainability point of view as their removal can have significant detrimental effects on plant survival and regeneration. Regulation in commercial extraction of NTFPs in many community forests of the area is an adaptive management strategy taken to prevent overexploitation of these resources and degradation of biodiversity in the area.