Progress in developing models for NTFPs has been hindered by the lack of an analytical framework that would enable information from diverse NTFPs to be integrated and analysed (Arnold and Ruiz Pérez 1998). As the objective here was to predict the impact of NTFP commercialization on livelihoods, we adopted a ‘livelihoods framework’ as a basis for constructing the BBN. Livelihood frameworks are designed to assist with analysing and understanding the livelihoods of the poor and to assess the effectiveness of current efforts aimed at reducing poverty; increasingly such frameworks are being used in development planning and policy (Carney 2002). Here, we employed the DFID Livelihoods framework described by Ashley and Carney (1999) and DFID (1999). This framework is based on the concept that people require a range of assets (including both material and social resources) in order to achieve positive livelihood outcomes. Five different types of asset are considered (DFID 1999):
Following the DFID approach, we consider that communities and individuals involved in NTFP commercialization as part of a livelihood strategy will require access to each of these five types of asset in order for commercialization to be successful. Furthermore, we propose that the process of NTFP commercialization can be considered as the conversion of one form of capital asset into another. Principally, during NTFP commercialization natural capital will be converted into financial capital, but during this process the availability of other forms of capital (human, social and physical) is also likely to change. Therefore, according to this approach, the process of NFTP commercialization can be conceptualized as a change in the availability of the five different types of capital asset. The extent and pattern of this change will be influenced by the initial availability of each of these asset types. Furthermore, the overall impact of NTFP commercialization on livelihoods can be considered as a function of the change in the availability of these assets (Figure 1).
The extent to which the availability of different types of asset varies as a result of NTFP commercialization will depend on a wide range of social, economic and environmental factors, as well as the cultural and political context under which the commercialization takes place. These factors include the characteristics of the product to be commercialized, and also the characteristics of the value chain (or market chain). The list of factors that could potentially influence the success of NTFP commercialization is not only large, but also varies between products and between the socio-economic circumstances under which commercialization takes place.
It is this complexity that has hindered progress in developing models for NTFP use and management to date. However, according to the analytical framework described here, such factors can be grouped according to the type of capital asset that they primarily affect. The framework therefore provides a basis for organizing information about a diverse array of variables that may have an influence on the process of NTFP commercialization. Furthermore, this framework focuses attention on the causal or probabilistic relationships between such factors and the pattern of change in availability of different asset types, providing a link between these factors and the impact on livelihoods.
The selection of factors to be incorporated in the model should be informed by the results of research, which ideally should be participatory, to ensure that the views of the actors involved in NTFP commercialization are adequately represented. Here we used the results of the CEPFOR research project to build a BBN according to the analytical framework described above.