Non-timber forest products: alternative multiple-uses for sustainable forest management
Forests of the southern United States are the source of a great diversity of flora, much of which is gathered for non-timber forest products (NTFPs). These products are made from resources that grow under the forest canopy as trees, herbs, shrubs, vines, moss and even lichen. They occur naturally in forests or may be cultivated under the forest canopy or in agroforestry settings. Over the last decade, interest in using these products as alternative income sources has grown tremendously. At the same time, concern about managing forests for these products has increased, as well. Unfortunately, there is insufficient scientific information or knowledge to assess the sustainability of NTFP harvesting. Very little is known about the materials collected, the people who collect them, or the enterprises that produce and market them. Preliminary results of on-going research to define the distribution of NTFP enterprises are presented. The state of knowledge concerning the markets for NTFPs in greater demand is reviewed. Issues and concerns regarding the sustainable management of non-timber forest resources to support these enterprises are discussed.