Box 3-1
Wildcrafting Uses of Forest Resources

Wildcrafting use of forests is rapidly expanding, particularly in areas where logging on public lands has recently and sharply declined. For example, in northern California, lichens, decorative boughs, burls form the bases of trees, and mushrooms have partially replaced timber as a major regional source of revenue. In Trinity County, an area with about 90 percent Federal forestland, over 50 herbs are now collected and marketed by wildcrafters. While not by any means a complete economic substitute for timber, wildcrafting brings in hundreds of millions of dollars nationally and is growing at about 20 percent per year. Concerns that over-harvesting may place these resources in jeopardy have prompted researchers to begin collaborative work with wildcrafters and local Native American tribes, where much of the historic expertise in using forest products other than timber resides.

Source: Adapted from the New York Times 1996

Much of the production of maple syrup, including the tapping of trees, is carried out on nonindustrial forestlands, especially those that are privately owned. Nationwide, the value of maple syrup production in 1991 was in excess of $39 million (USDA Forest Service 1993a). Floral greenery is an established special forest product, and forestlands can be managed specifically to encourage favored species and environmental conditions. Basket weaving by Native peoples, such as the basket weavers of California, is another important example of the production of nontimber forest products.

Nontimber forest products are easily identified with particular land parcels or regions of the United States. These products present landowners with commercial opportunities or opportunities to use the activities of gatherers as management tools to manipulate vegetation by species or by product quality. Harvest of special forest products on federal and nonfederal lands is likely to increase. Annual income from visually nonintrusive harvesting of such products is an incentive for nonfederal landowners to be involved.

Urban and Community Benefits

Although urban residents use wildlands beyond city limits, they spend comparatively more time in urban and community forests (Miller 1988). This is especially true for the disabled, the elderly, young, or those who have low incomes. Urban and community forests provide a variety of important social and environmental benefits (Box 3-2), the economic value of which has been estimated to be $3 billion per year nationwide (McPherson and Rowntree 1991).

Urban and community forests moderate climate; protect air quality; control rain runoff; lower noise levels; provide wildlife habitat; improve the aesthetics of

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