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Criterion 2 Indicator 14
Annual Removal of Non-Timber Forest Products (e.g., Furbearers, Berries, Mushroom, Game), Compared to the Level Determined to be Sustainable
Recreational, subsistence, and commercial use of non-timber forest products is an important part of thousands of Oregonians’ lives. Non-timber forest products are defined as plants and fungi used as floral greens, Christmas greens and ornamentals, wild edibles, posts, poles, firewood, medicinal plants, and transplants. Native Americans continue traditional harvest and use of many products on their reservations, and also on ceded, cultural, and traditional use lands. Japanese families pass on from one generation to the next the location of fruitful picking areas for pine mushrooms (Tricholoma magnivelare). Many people harvest berries, wild edible mushrooms, floral greenery, and transplants for home use.
The commercial floral market for wild products has existed in Oregon since the early 1900s, and the wild edible mushroom market has come into its own since the early 1980s. Concerned groups have expressed concerns about sustainability since the turn of the century. Broad ecological requirements are known for most non-timber forest products, but very little is known about the detailed biology of individual species, the response of these plants to harvest and other disturbances, and their long-term productivity.
Furbearers and game animals in Oregon are largely under the jurisdiction of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). The department has developed models and survey techniques to track and monitor populations and determine harvest levels.

Can This Indicator Be Quantified
There is no statewide collection of data on the removal of non-timber forest products. Some large landowners, such as the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Forest Service, and Oregon Department of Forestry, keep data on personal and commercial permits they issue. However, many landowners do not issue permits and may not allow harvest of non-wood forest products on their land. For the vast majority of permits issued, the landowners never track the actual volume harvested. Personal use is particularly undocumented as most of it occurs in small volumes, and no permit is required by many landowners that allow public access.
Table 14-1 outlines available information about the size of various segments of the non-timber forest products industry. The industry’s floral segment has been in existence since the early 1900s.
Table 14-1. Non-wood forest products trade, Pacific Northwest, in millions of (current) dollars
YearAll non-wood forest products, ORFloral and Christmas greens, WA, OR & Southwest BCWild mushrooms, WA, OR & IDMatsutake, BC exports
19505 (a)Not available (NA)NANA
1985NANA21.5 (b)NA
1989NA128.5 (c)38.6 (d)9 to 10 (e)
1992NANA41.1 (d)NA
1994NA106.8 (f)NANA

  1. Cronemiller, et. al. 1950; Shaw 1949
  2. McRobert, 1985
  3. Schlosser, et. al. 1991
  4. Schlosser and Blatner 1995
  5. Russell 1990
  6. Blatner and Schlosser, 1997
Many landowners are more concerned about illegal harvest and trespass issues than they are about legal harvest and sustainability of the more common species. Illegal or unmonitored harvest makes issues of sustainability and property rights difficult to assess. Although the removal or sustainability of non-timber forest products cannot be quantified at this point, the required ecological conditions are becoming better understood for many of the products. The more they can learn about these products, the better forest managers can understand what forest types and conditions are needed across the landscape to ensure their continued availability.
Furbearers and game animals are monitored by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. ODFW also runs models of their populations, using the best information available. The animals are monitored in various ways, and different intensities of data are collected depending on the species. Populations are monitored by surveys and by age structure analysis based on, among other information, tooth samples from harvested animals. Tag numbers and seasons are set with harvest and population goals in mind.

Non-wood forest products have been an integral part of Native American life for thousands of years, and are still important in diet and ceremony. Settlers depended on non-wood forest products, and many people still harvest a variety of products from Oregon forests for personal use. The use of medicinal plants is becoming more popular, increasing the harvest pressure on certain species and the incidence of trespass and possible conflict between traditional users and commercial harvesters. Mushroom harvest is also becoming more popular both with commercial and recreational users.
The non-wood forest products industry has been in existence since the early 1900s and will likely remain an important part of the regional economy for many years. However, the industry is changing. Traditionally exports have been important, but domestic demand is expanding for many products in the industry. Many people who have harvested these products for a long time feel that fire suppression and decreasing timber harvests have reduced the availability of some products. The land base for floral greenery changes when lands are removed from timber harvesting, whether temporary removals for management reasons or permanent removals when timber lands are converted to rural and agricultural uses.
The non-wood forest products industry covers such a wide range of species and habitats that biological and commercial production trends are difficult to assess, due to both the wide range of products and the lack of biological information about many of the species. Indicator #30 outlines trends in markets and prices. There are concerns that removal of some species, particularly medicinal plants, could easily become unsustainable, but the lack of inventories or biological studies makes these concerns difficult to substantiate.
Furbearer populations are generally doing very well in Oregon, because of a downturn 20 years ago in the fur market, increased regulations on hunting with dogs, and other factors. Generally, more furbearers are removed for damaging property, for example beavers blocking culverts, than there is commercial harvest for furs. Game animals are regulated to maintain populations based on both biology and social preferences (e.g., agricultural damage, human safety, etc).

Data Source and Availability
Permit data for non-timber forest products can be obtained from the Oregon Department of Forestry, BLM, and the U.S. Forest Service. Survey data for the non-timber forest products industry is available in publications such as Blatner and Alexander (1998), Blatner and Schlosser (1997), and Schlosser and Blatner (1995).
There is no regularly collected, publicly available data on the actual amount of non-wood forest products removed annually. The U.S. Forest Service is setting up a national system to collect data on permits issued by national forests; summarized data will be available on the U.S. Forest Service web page for the year 2000 and beyond. BLM collects permit data, and summarized reports are available from BLM district offices. Oregon Department of Forestry district offices produce annual reports of private and commercial permits with information about species and permit revenues. Information on personal use permits can be gleaned from information supplied by the U.S. Forest Service, BLM district offices, and Oregon Department of Forestry district offices. For specific information not in the reports, requests can be submitted to BLM or Oregon Department of Forestry district offices.
For a few selected species, biological production estimates are being studied at a local or site-specific level, at universities, the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, and other agencies. The biology and yield of most species are not well understood.
Several publications summarize industry information from surveys (e.g., Blatner and Alexander, 1998; Blatner and Schlosser, 1997; Schlosser and Blatner, 1995). Schlosser, et. al., (1992) looked at the production capacity for floral greenery. There are ongoing studies examining productivity. One example is Pilz, et. al., (1999), who looked at pine mushroom (Tricholoma magnivelare) productivity and biology in the Pacific Northwest. However, there are no generalized yield functions for any non-timber forest product that give quantitative information about yields and response to harvest.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has data about population determinants and harvest levels of furbearers and game animals. There is a booklet available on big game statistics and harvest success by species. Other information can be requested from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife big game coordinator or the bear and cougar coordinator.

Reliability of Data
Available information on non-timber forest products removal is based on collections of permit information and on surveys done as site-specific instruments. Permit data summaries cannot be directly interpreted as product information, as it is not known what proportion of the total statewide harvest is represented by individual permit summaries.
Annual removal of game and furbearers is tracked at various levels of intensity, depending on the species in question. The data are highly quantified and reliable.

Permit data are specific to the landowner. U.S. Forest Service data can be delivered at various scales (i.e., district, national forest). BLM data are available by district, and Oregon Department of Forestry data is available by state forestry district. For a few products, data is available on the value and quantities of production, at scales varying from site-specific to regional.
For game animals and furbearers, data are available by county and year. Other scales can be requested from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Recommended Action for Data Collection
There are two serious barriers to the ability to estimate sustainable harvest levels for non-timber forest products. The first barrier is lack of monitoring. The state of Oregon requires non-wood forest product buyers to collect information on a form, the "special forest products buyers record" (ORS 165.813(3)). The buyer is required to keep the information for one year, but the information is not collected by the state. If the information were collected, state reporting and data keeping would help all landowners keep track of contracts and compliance, in addition to species demand.
The second barrier is the lack of scientific knowledge. There is ongoing research on policies, production, monitoring, inventory, biology, and value of non-wood forest products by individuals in many agencies and organizations in the Pacific Northwest. The state of Oregon can help by being a cooperator in ongoing and proposed research studies, and by defining problem areas for study funding.


Selected References
Blatner, K. A., and S. Alexander. 1998. Recent price trends for non-timber forest products in the Pacific Northwest. Forest Products Journal 48(10): 28-34.
Blatner, K. A., and W. E. Schlosser. 1997. The floral and Christmas greens industry of the Pacific Northwest. Project report to the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, OR.
Cronemiller, Jynn F., and John B. Woods, Charles H. Ladd, and others. 1950. Secret treasures in the forest. Oregon State Board of Forestry, Salem, OR. Bulletin 14.
McRobert, Gussie. 1985. A walk on the wild side. Oregon Business. October: 105-106.
Pilz, D., and J. Smith, M. P. Amaranthus, S. Alexander, R. Molina, D. Luoma. 1999. Mushrooms and timber: managing commercial harvesting in the Oregon Cascades. Journal of Forestry 97(3):4-11.
Russell, Kenelm. 1990. Manufacturing, marketing, and regulatory considerations: forest fungi. Remarks presented at the Special Forest Products Workshop, February 8-10, 1990, Portland, OR. 9 pp. On file with: Kenelm Russell, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Olympia, WA 98504.
Schlosser, W., and K. Blatner, R. Chapman. 1991. Economic and marketing implications of special forest products harvest in the coastal Pacific Northwest. Western Journal of Applied Forestry 6(3):67-72.
Schlosser, W., and K. Blatner, B. Zamora. 1992. Pacific Northwest lands potential for floral greenery production. Northwest Science 66(1):44-55.
Schlosser, W., and K. Blatner. 1995. The wild edible mushroom industry of Washington, Oregon and Idaho: a 1992 survey of processors. Journal of Forestry 93(3):31-36.
Shaw, Elmer W. 1949. Minor forest products of the Pacific Northwest. USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station, Portland, OR. Research Note 59. 10 pp.
USDA Forest Service. Special Forest Products: Region 6 update. Portland, OR.