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OCCASIONAL PAPER NO. 22

ISSN 0854-9818 May 1999

Uña de Gato: Fate and Future of a Peruvian Forest Resource

Wil de Jong, Mary Melnyk, Luis Alfaro Lozano, Marina Rosales, and Myriam García

CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL FORESTRY RESEARCH Office address: Jalan CIFOR, Situ Gede, Sindangbarang, Bogor 16680, Indonesia Mailing address: P.O. Box 6596 JKPWB, Jakarta 10065, Indonesia Tel.: +62 (251)622622; Fax: +62 (251) 622100 E-mail: cifor@cgiar.org Website: http://www.cgiar.org/cifor

Contents

Summary Introduction The issues Characteristics of the resource
Compounds and curative properties of uña de gato Ecology of uña de gato

1 1 2 2 2 3 4 4 5 6 6 6 6 7 7 7 8 8 8 9 9 10 11 11 12 12 14

Prospects of the uña de gato industry
International trade and sales of uña de gatoExtraction and collectors National manufacturers and their trade United States manufacturers and distributors

Sustaining the resource
Controlled extraction and management of uña de gato Government actions to sustaining production Root versus bark Uña de gato propagation techniques

Policy and legal issues
Permits and administration for collection, trade and export of uña de gato Genetic andintellectual property rights

Resolving the issues
Is the resource base being threatened? The future of the industry Benefit capturing among small-scale collectors Compensation for property rights The proposed export ban

Conclusions Literature cited

Uña de Gato: Fate and Future of a Peruvian Forest Resource
Wil de Jong1, Mary Melnyk2, Luis Alfaro Lozano3, Marina Rosales3, and Myriam García3Summary
Uncaria tomentosa and U. guíanensis have been important in traditional healing in many South American countries. These species contain some sixty active substances which are widely tested for possible medical treatments. U. tomentosa has been traded from Peru until it reached a peak export of 726 tonnes in 1996. Government agencies and private companies have dedicated considerableefforts in trying to enhance production and sales of these species. At the national level, there has been pressure put on the government to allow legislation to prohibit the sales of the raw material of these species to capture larger shares of benefits for the national economy. Initially false conservation arguments were used as there is sufficient evidence to argue that at current harvesting levelsthere is no threat to the two species. Regional government agencies have promoted the production of the two species without having a clear picture of future demand, allowing the possibility that much of the future production will not have any demand. Both actions may possibly negatively affect the benefits that accrue to local collectors or producers.

Introduction
Uncaria tomentosa (Willd.)D.C. and Uncaria guíanensis (Aubl.) Gmel. are both known as uña de gato and are native to a number of Central and South American countries. The two species have been used as medicinal plants in several of the countries where they occur, but its local use has mostly been recorded from Peru. Among local traditional healers, but also in the lore on medicinal plants, it has been widely recognized as apowerful medicinal that provides relief for a number of infectious or rheumatic diseases. Currently uña de gato, and especially Uncaria tomentosa is in demand in more than 30 countries outside Peru as teas, tablets or capsules, as well as in the country itself. This national and international appreciation for uña de gato is the result of its “discovery” by western medical sciences almost threedecades ago. Now that an important industry providing a substantial source of income for collectors, traders, and manufacturers has developed around uña de gato, and that there is an everincreasing faith in the yet undiscovered healing potentials of the plant’s compounds, it is the right moment to step back and take a broad look at the uña de gato industry, and to evaluate its possible future...
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