Community Manuals

People and Plants International (PPI) is deeply committed to facilitating the communication and exchange of socially useful knowledge to and among local users. Manuals have a critical role to play in this regard, enabling the dissemination of traditional knowledge within and among local peoples, as well as the democratization of useful but otherwise inaccessible technical and scientific information.

Some of the manuals produced by PPI seek to render accessible scientific information to groups who normally do not have access to the specialized journals or to the language used by scientists to communicate the results of their findings. Other manuals have been used by communities to disseminate, and in some cases validate or control, the use of their knowledge. A number of hands-on technical manuals have also been developed to help local groups better manage resources, or negotiate with commercial or government representatives interested in local resources and lands.


Manual Para el Monitoreo Comunitario del Crecimiento de Árboles. 2016. Silvia Purata (PPI), Patricia Gerez (INBIOTECA, PPI), Charles Peters (NYBG, PPI).

This illustrated manual was produced as part of the program to help forest-based communities in Mexico develop their capacities for managing and monitoring their own forests, both for timber and for environmental services including carbon capture. Using simple, accessible and effective tools and techniques the manual allows small holders to collect key data to help them make wise management decisions and receive benefits from REDD+ scheme. Download PDF here. 

Los Textiles de la Tlasesekya: Cuentos sobre hilos, telares y vellones.  2014. B. Contreras J. and M.A. Sosme C.

This audiovisual resource pack, containing a bi-lingual illustrated story book and an audio CD, is aimed at the children of the communities of traditional weavers of Zongolica, who raise a native breed of sheep as part of a biodiverse and complex agro-silvo-pastoral management system to produce the necessary wool and plant-based dyes to produce high-quality weavings and handi-crafts. Download the book here and the audio here


Guía Características y Usos de la Madera de Jonote en la Carpintería (Trema micrantha)

2012. D.García L., A. Quintanar I. and C.López B.

 This guide was produced as part of the ongoing efforts by Citlalli López and her collaborators to promote the use, management and cultivation of this ecologically and economically promising tree species, which currently supplies the raw material for the manufacture of Mexican bark paper (papel amate) a traditional handicraft which supports the livelihoods of hundreds of families of artisans and bark producers, collectors and processors. Using the wood for carpentry adds further value to the tree and makes its use and harvesting more efficient. Download here.



Fruit Trees and Useful Plants in Amazonian Life

2011, P. Shanley, M. Cymerys, M. Serra and G. Medina.

This beautifully illustrated 353-page book-co-produced by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Center for International Forestry Research (Cifor) and People and Plants International (PPI)- presents detailed profiles of nineteen plant species used as food, medicine and for materials by Amazonian peoples. It also summarizes, always using a highly accessible language, some of the underutilized opportunities and formidable challenges faced by Amazonia's rich bioculutral patrimony. Like its predecesor- a manual published in portuguese in 2005- this updated and expanded translation seeks to help bridge the gap in knowledge between scientists and local people. Its launching was planned to coincide with the end of the International Year of Forests. Read this BBC news article or the FAO media announcement and  download a copy of the book.


Wise harvest of wild mushrooms: a practical handbook

2011, David Arora, Tony Cunningham, Wang Xianghua, Yang Yongping and Yang Xuefei,

In partnership with the Kunming Institute of Botany (KIB) in China, PPI is addressing a significant knowledge gap: the economic values and sustainable harvest of mushrooms and fungi.  By producing this manual, PPI hopes to address a key incentive - the values of fungi - for forest conservation. Download the manual here. To download the Chinese version of the manual click here.




Frutíferas e Plantas Úteis na Vida Amazônica. Second Edition
P. Shanley, M. Serra and G. Medina (eds.), 2010

The updated edition of this 300-page book integrates relevant scientific findings from a ethnoecological research program in Brazilian Amazonia. Ninety Brazilian scientists and scores of rural farmers contributed. This book intends to get information into the hands of people who need it the most. Driven by community demand the Ministry of Environment and the National Agricultural Institute of Brazil have recently printed 10,000 copies for widespread distribution. It is created on a framework that questions "who is science for" by promoting more innovative products of research which are directed at broad audiences including rural communities and civil society, whose sustenance depends upon natural resources. Download here.


Uso y Manejo de los Copales Aromáticos: Resinas y Aceites

2008, S. Purata Velarde

This manual is written for people from rural communities to collect or extract copal resins and aromatic oils from different species of Bursera in a sustainable manner. The manual has general information on the production of resins and aromatic oils, historic uses of these materials, as well as explanations of the technical-scientific concepts necessary to understand the principles of sustainable management of non-timber forest products. PDF Español



Guía Práctica Forestal de Silvicultura Comunitaria
2008, P. Gerez Fernández and S. Purata Velarde

This practical forest management guide is directed towards community forests managers who desire to use their natural resources in a sustainable manner. The guide includes topics such as the history of community forestry in Mexico, understanding the ecosystem, conducting forest inventories, sustainable harvesting and other benefits or uses of forests such as carbon sequestration and ecotourism.  PDF Español.



Riquezas del Bosque: Frutas, Remedios y Artesanías en América Latina  

2006. C. Lopez, P. Shanley, M. C. Cronkleton (eds.)

Based on the knowledge of several researchers and local people from different Latin American countries, this manual seeks to share information about selected non-timber forest species. It contains carefully selected information on marketing, harvesting, preparation and commercialization of key NTPFs. It is written and presented in a style that is both attractive and easily accessible to a broad popular audience. PDF Español.


La Riqueza de los Bosques Mexicanos: Mas Allá de La Madera. Experiencias en Communidades Rurales
2004, C. Lopez, S. Chanfon, G. Segura (eds.)

This book profiles 19 NTFP cases from different natural regions (desert to humid tropics) in Mexico. Each case describes the natural, social, economic, and cultural dimensions of non-timber forest products and their potentials and constraints. In brief and accessible language combined with descriptive illustrations, each chapter describes the current production conditions of the 19 NTFPs including chicle, spring water, charcoal, fibers, palms, and spices. PDF Español


Riches of the Forest: Food, Spices, Crafts and Resins of Asia 
2004, López, C. and P. Shanley (eds.)

This book profiles 20 NTFP cases, including both plant and animal products, and written by a wide range of specialists from different regions within Asia. Originally published in English, the manual was subsequently translated into Japanese by   forestry students from Kyoto University together with their teachers,   as part of their education and forestry training. The volume serves as a basis for knowledge exchange between NTFP producers, students and a larger interested audience. PDF English. PDF Japanese.



Ejabawejakiji Ebiohoneki Shemeno Ese Ejaha Sowiho: Para Conocer Los Remedios del Monte 
2004, M. N. Alexiades, G. Huajo-Huajo, et al.

Researched, written, illustrated with and by six Ese Eja from four different communities, this health manual aims to strengthen the internal capacity of the Ese Eja in Peru and Bolivia to deal with their health issues, as well as other problems linked to rapid social and ecological change. Providing information on the use of medicinal plants to treat common illness symptoms, this bi-lingual health manual helps secure and re-energize traditional health-care delivery means and resources, and has enabled cross-exchange of knowledge between different Ese Eja communities in Peru and Bolivia.