Rural communities in South Africa harvest a diversity of wild resources from communal woodlands for home consumption and sale. The contribution these resources make to the rural economy has been little recognized, and few studies have attempted to place a monetary value on this use. This paper describes three case studies which aimed to determine the value of savanna resources for the livelihoods of rural households.
Use patterns and values of resources in three villages of differing socioeconomic status were determined using household interviews, PRA techniques and key informant interviews. Questions were designed to establish the types of products used, frequency of use, quantities used, seasonality of use, longevity of durable resources, local prices, and the extent of trade.
All households were procuring at least some woodland resources, with the most frequently used being fuel wood, wood for implements, edible herbs and fruits, grass for brushes, and insects. Patterns of resource use varied across villages. The most “rural” village used the greatest diversity of resources and had the highest number of users for most resources. Gross value of resources consumed per household per year ranged from R2819 to R7238. Total value was highest in the less obviously resource dependent village, primarily the result of higher local prices due to greater extraction costs and a larger market for traded goods. Values are comparable to those contributed by other land-based livelihood activities such as subsistence cultivation and livestock production.