The sustainability of soapberry (Sapindus laurifolia Vahl) fruit harvest by the Soliga community in South India
Non-timber forest products are essential from the point of their utility and importance in local economies. About 6,000 Soliga indigenous people live in the Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple wildlife sanctuary earning a combined total of US$60,000 per year from non-timber forest products (NTFPs) from the forest to meet a proportion of their subsistence cash income. In total, between 10% and 85% of household income is derived from NTFP extraction (Sandemose 2009). Declining yields and degradation of some NTFP species may have negative impacts on the tribal economy. To use forests in a sustainable way, particularly NTFPs, it is necessary to have understandings and statistics on levels of production, extraction and regeneration (Uma Shankar et al. 1996). Wild fruit harvest is often sustainable for many species (Ticktin 2004), although heavy long-term harvesting of some species can lead to decline in certain situations (Peres et al. 2003). Though NTFPs provide rural employment, income and conservation of forests through enhancing rural income, these need to be balanced against the possibile overharvesting of NTFPs because of potential negative impacts on regeneration and survival (Browder 1992, Homma 1992, Nepstad et al. 1992, Murali et al. 1996). NTFPs offer considerable potential in the conservation of tropical forests through judicious harvesting practices and through enhancing rural income and in motivating people to conserve their resource base (Peters et al. 1989).