alexa The Relationship between Nontimber Forest Product Management and Biodiversity in the United States
Environmental Sciences

Environmental Sciences

Journal of Biodiversity & Endangered Species

Author(s): Eric T Jones, Rebecca J McLain, Kathryn A Lynch

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Nontimber forest products (NTFP) in the United St ates are harvested for commercial and noncommercial purposes and include thousands of wild or semi-wild sp ecies or parts of species used for medicines, foods, decorations, fragrances, containers, dyes, fuel, shelte r, art, ceremonial purposes, and more. Despite the known and substantial economic value of a few indi vidual NTFPs, and the unknown, but likely high economic value of NTFPs in aggregate, historically mana gers have not included them as important factors in forest management. Not only do NTFPs comprise a significant part of the biological diversity of forest ecosystems, but given the lack of formal NTFP resea rch, the many people who harvest NTFPs part or fulltime have the most knowledge about them. Consequent ly, efforts to conserve biodiversity are unlikely to succeed unless knowledge about NTFPs, and the effects on them of various forest management activities such as timber removal, grazing, prescribed burning, and NTFP harvesting practices, becomes an integral part of forest management. This research project attempts to address these issues through achieving two objectives: 1) to advance understanding of the role an d impact of NTFP management in forest ecosystem sustainability and biodiversity; and 2) to support the ability of U.S. forest managers to assess NTFP sustainability. We developed five interrelated compone nts to meet these objectives. The first component is an online species database expanded from 857 to 1,343 en tries. The database serves as an initial tool for identifying NTFP species that currently or formerly existed in their region and that can potentially be incorporated into planning for biodiversity conserva tion, forest restoration, cultural use patterns, and sustainable economic development. The second compone nt is an online bibliogr aphic database expanded from 1,468 to over 2,600 entries. The database aids in identifying NTFP references of books, journals, and gray literature. A large portion of the entries are annotated. The academic publications included in the database are drawn more heavily from the internationa l NTFP arena, which is where the majority of NTFP research has been done thus far. The third component is a national survey of Forest Service Ranger District employees and state forest managers for the purpo se of examining NTFP management in relation to biodiversity. The surveys include several questi ons specifically addressing inventory and monitoring activities. The fourth component is ethnographic fieldwork throughout the lower 48 United States that entailed driving over 37,000 miles to meet harvesters and other stakeholders in their communities. The fieldwork included formal and informal interviews and participant observation with hundreds of NTFP harvesters and other stakeholders including land managers, scientists, Native Americans, commercial businesses, and environmental groups. The fifth compone nt is a series of four all-day multi-stakeholder workshops and a three-day retreat of the seven memb er project team held to discuss the possibilities for inventory and monitoring programs involving NTFP harvesters. The results of these meetings including rationale, harvester incentives, barriers, case studies, recommendations, and steps for creating participatory inventory and monitoring programs are incorporated into a companion document to this report

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This article was published in Institute for Culture and Ecology and referenced in Journal of Biodiversity & Endangered Species

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