Nontimber Forest Products in the United States

Eric T. Jones, Rebecca J. McLain, and James Weigand, editors

A quiet revolution is taking place in America's forests. Once seen primarily as stands of timber, our woodlands are now prized as a rich source of a wide range of commodities, from wild mushrooms and maple sugar to hundreds of medicinal plants whose uses have only begun to be fully realized. Now as timber harvesting becomes more mechanized and requires less labor, the image of the lumberjack is being replaced by that of the forager.

This book provides the first comprehensive examination of nontimber forest products (NTFPs) in the United States, illustrating their diverse importance, describing the people who harvest them, and outlining the steps that are being taken to ensure access to them. As the first extensive national overview of NTFP policy and management specific to the United States, it brings together research from numerous disciplines and analytical perspectives-such as economics, mycology, history, ecology, law, entomology, forestry, geography, and anthropology—in order to provide a cohesive picture of the current and potential role of NTFPs.

“An exceptional, encyclopedic volume. . . . The book examines much more than nontimber forest products, qua products. It also investigates the people, places, and processes shaping the fate of forest environments from which such products are harvested. In this respect, the book fulfills a timely, even urgent mission. . . . In sum, [this book] stands as an invaluable resource for activists and agency personnel, as well as for established scholars of society and natural resources.

—Society and Natural Resources

“An important work [that] fills a substantial void in American forest and conservation history literature. By bringing attention to a neglected topic, it charts the course for future study not only by historians, but by anthropologists, economists, ecologists, forest management and policy specialists, and others as well.

—H-Net Book Review
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The contributors review the state of scientific knowledge of NTFPs by offering a survey of commercial and noncommercial products, an overview of uses and users, and discussions of sustainable management issues associated with ecology, cultural traditions, forest policy, and commerce. They examine some of the major social, economic, and biological benefits of NTFPs, while also addressing the potential negative consequences of NTFP harvesting on forest ecosystems and on NTFP species populations.

Within this wealth of information are rich accounts of NTFP use drawn from all parts of the American landscape—from the Pacific Northwest to the Caribbean. From honey production to a review of nontimber forest economies still active in the United States—such as the Ojibway "harvest of plants" recounted here—the book takes in the whole breadth of recent NTFP issues, including ecological concerns associated with the expansion of NTFP markets and NTFP tenure issues on federally managed lands.

No other volume offers such a comprehensive overview of NTFPs in North America. By examining all aspects of these products, it contributes to the development of more sophisticated policy and management frameworks for not only ensuring their ongoing use but also protecting the future of our forests.

About the Author

Eric T. Jones and Rebecca J. McLain are codirectors and researchers for the Institute for Culture and Ecology in Portland, Oregon. James Weigand is a natural resource economist for the U.S. Forest Service. An NTFP website contains annotated citations for books and articles and a prototype database of NTFPs harvested in the United States.

Additional Titles in the Development of Western Resources Series