Non-timber forest products in sustainable forest management
The forests of Southern United States are the source of many non-timber forest products (NTFPs). The collection, trade and use of these products have been important to rural economies since Europeans settled in this country. At the same time the plants from which these products originate are crucial to healthy ecosystems. Over the last decade, the market demand and the interest in managing forests for NTFPs has grown tremendously, which has generated concern for the ecological sustainability of forest resources from which they are produced. The health and functioning of the forest ecosystems and the associated rural communities depend on the sustainable management of the NTFP resources. And yet, the scientific knowledge of these products is not well developed. Sustainability and the full range of benefits cannot be realized unless non-timber forest products are included in the scientific management of the forest resources. We examine the status of forest management for non-timber products and discuss issues critical to sustainable management for these products.