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Criterion 6 Indicator 30
Value and Quantities of Production of Non-Wood Forest Products   There has been increasing attention focused on the non-timber forest products industry, particularly by research and government organizations. Non-timber forest products, also referred to as non-wood forest products or special forest products, include understory species used in the floral market, boughs, fungi, stems, poles and posts, wild edible plants, medicinal plants, and transplants for landscaping. These products come from many plant and fungi species.
One focus of interest has been the size of the industry and its regional impact. Concern has been expressed about the harvest of non-wood forest products, particularly those for which there is little biological information and that are being harvested commercially. For many plant species, little information is available about what is being harvested, in what quantities, and the impact of harvest on the species and its distribution. Annual or at least regularly collected data is not available on production and prices for non-wood forest products.
Estimates have been made through the years, based on surveys or other means, of the scope of various segments of this industry. The industry is commonly divided into floral greens, Christmas greens and ornamentals, wild edible plants, and medicinal markets, although there are other smaller segments that employ many individuals. With more information about the value and quantities of non-wood forest products, landowners and policymakers would be able to make better decisions about harvest and policies that affect resource sustainability and employment opportunities.

Can This Indicator Be Quantified
The table below outlines parts of the timber industry in the Pacific Northwest, for comparative purposes. There is a clear decline in timber harvest from 1989 to 1996. This decline has been presented by many authors as an important reason for the increased focus on non-wood forest products as sources of revenue and subsistence.  
Table 30-1. Timber trade, Pacific Northwest: harvest in million board-feet (MMBF), prices, value, and exports
YearTimber Harvest, all owners, WA & OR west-side, in MMBFAve. stumpage prices, Nat. Forest sawtimber, PNW DF west-side, current year US dollars per thousand board feet (MBF)Approximate timber harvest value, WA & OR, all owners, millions of (current) dollarsSoftwood log exports, Seattle & Columbia-Snake customs districts, millions of (current) dollars
1952 (a)20,000$26$516Not available
1989 (b)15,208$390$5,928$ 1724 (75% to Japan)
1990 (b)12,068$466$5,628$ 1681 (75% to Japan)
1994 (b)8,323$652$5,430$ 1524 (92% to Japan)
1996 (c)7,193$399$2,870$ 1392 (95% to Japan)
  1. USFS 1982
  2. USFS 1996
  3. USFS 1998
Table 30-2 shows the size of various segments of the non-wood forest products industry at different points in time. In their most recent survey of the floral greens and Christmas greens markets, Blatner and Schlosser (1997) found that the floral greens market appears to be decreasing (from 1989 to 1994), while the Christmas greens market is holding steady. They note that it is important to recognize the dynamic character of this industry. Markets for all types of products continually expand and contract due to a wide variety of market forces, and the same is true for non-wood forest product markets. 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 to come.
Table 30-2. 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
1985NANA$ 21.5 (b)NA
1989NA$ 128.5 (c)$ 38.6 (d)$ 9 to 10 (e)
1992NANA$ 41.1 (d)NA
1994NA$ 106.8 (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
Table 30-3 outlines available information on employment in the floral and Christmas greens markets, and includes data from the lumber and paper industries for comparison. Although employment data is not available for other segments of the non-wood forest products industry, there is a considerable amount of seasonal employment in the wild edible plant markets and the medicinal plant markets, and some employment in other segments, such as craft materials and transplants.
Table 30-3. Forest product employment, Oregon and Washington
YearLumber and wood productsPaper and allied productsFloral and Christmas greens
1950Not calculatedNot calculated2000 (a)
1953134,4000 (b)2,100Not available
1989109,300 (c)26,50010,300 (d)
1990103,600 (e)27,200Not available
199491,10026,3005800 (f)
  1. Heckman, 1951
  2. USFS, 1982
  3. USFS, 1990
  4. Schlosser, et. al., 1991
  5. USFS, 1996
  6. Estimated from Blatner and Schlosser (1997); includes WA, OR, ID and MT
Wages have been estimated by a few authors through the years. Heckman (1951) reported daily wages of $18 to $40 for people who picked floral greens in 1950, with a weekly maximum of $400. Acker (1986) said that an average wage for a mushroom picker in the mid-1980s was $830 seasonally, with a few people earning a maximum of $4,000. In an assessment of matsutake mushrooms in the Nass Valley in British Columbia, Meyer Resources (1995) found that matsutake pickers earned an estimated $4,500 per season in the early 1990s. Other authors have found that although such wages may be standard for experienced pickers, the majority of mushroom harvesters earn far less. Many pickers, particularly those with little or no experience, lose money. Mushroom buyers pay in cash, and often handle tens of thousands of dollars each day in high value, high volume areas.
Mushroom buying may represent the largest legal cash-based commerce in our society.
The next three tables show the prices paid to harvesters for a selected sample of plants and fungi collected in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. The tables use existing information that was easily available. Medicinal plants are an important market in the Pacific Northwest but price data has not been collected and reported in a systematic way. Table 30-4 outlines some prices for boughs. It has been estimated that about 80 percent of boughs are used during the Christmas holidays. The remaining 20 percent are used year-round by the floral market. A study is underway in Oregon and Washington to develop estimates of noble fir bough production and yield estimates through Washington State Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, and Washington State University. The results should be available within the next year.
Table 30-4. Mean per-ton prices (current dollars) for Christmas greens harvested in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, per ton (from Blatner and Alexander, 1998)
Common nameScientific name1989199419951996
Douglas-firPseudotsuga menziesii$200$315$234$338
Grand firAbies grandisNot available$387$210$580
Incense-cedarLibocedrus decurrens$760$634$619$612
Noble firAbies procera$720$540$408$596
Western red cedarThuja plicata$460$406$295$433
Table 30-5 shows prices for floral greens. According to Douglass (1975), the buying, selling, and shipping of native floral greenery was big business for several companies in the Pacific Northwest in the mid-1970s. Floral greenery has continued to be an important product since then. Gathering boughs and greenery is the principle income for many rural families.
Thousands of others, such as loggers, fishermen, and housewives, pick floral greenery as a part-time occupation. Floral greenery leases help landowners in several ways. The leases provide supplemental income; the pickers help patrol, report, and suppress fires; and the work helps to keep roads and trails open.
Douglass reported that floral greenery species suitable for the market and available in commercial quantities are limited in number, and he thought that new species were not likely to be found that would take up an appreciable market share. However, as subsequent studies have shown, existing species can be used in new ways, through preservation, dying, and new markets. The floral market changes quickly and is influenced by style trends and changes in taste.
The land base for floral greenery production changes as lands are removed from timber harvesting. Some lands are removed temporarily, and other lands are removed permanently when they are converted to agricultural or other uses. The Pacific Northwest markets floral greenery to other countries, but also has competition from other countries. Artificial greenery also affects the demand for Pacific Northwest greenery products.
Table 30-5. Mean per-bunch prices (current dollars) for floral greens harvested in Oregon, Washington and Idaho
Common nameScientific name1950 (a)1972 (b)1989 (c)1994 (c)1995 (c)1996 (c)
BeargrassXerophyllum tenaxNot available (NA)NA$0.90$0.56$0.44$0.43
Evergreen huckleberry spraysVaccinium ovatum$ 0.11 – 0.16$0.35$0.65$0.85$0.68$0.73
Evergreen huckleberry tipsVaccinium ovatumNA$0.25$0.37$0.48$0.51$0.56
Red evergreen huckleberryVaccinium ovatumNA$0.35$0.65$0.92$0.66$0.79
Salal spraysGaultheria shallon$ 0.11 – 0.16$0.39$0.90$0.98$0.95$1.06
Salal tipsGaultheria shallonNA$0.25$0.50$0.72$0.59$0.76
Scotch broomCytisus scopariusNA$0.28$0.40$0.41$0.42$0.51
Sword fernPolystich-um munitum$ 0.10 – 0.16$0.24$0.62$0.77$0.67$0.64
Moss (per lb.)Many speciesNANA$0.26$1.74$0.21$0.37
  1. Allen 1950
  2. Douglass 1975
  3. Blatner and Alexander 1998
Mushroom production has been explored by several studies (e.g., Norvell 1995; Pilz, et. al., 1999). So far the conclusion is that production fluctuates so widely that it is difficult to make conclusive statements, but estimates of productivity may be used to make local site-specific assessments of long-term productivity (Alexander, et. al., in preparation). Table 30-6 below shows prices for the four most significant commercially harvested fungi in Oregon. It has been estimated that as many as 36 species are traded commercially, but these four make up the bulk of the industry.
Table 30-6. Mean per-pound prices (current dollars) for wild edible mushrooms harvested in Oregon, Washington and Idaho (from Blatner and Alexander, 1998)
Common nameScientific name1992199419951996
BoletesBoletus species$4.53$6.40$5.51$6.33
ChanterellesCantharellius species$2.95$4.00$3.02$3.06
MorelsMorchella species$4.14$5.86$4.57$5.60
Pine mushroomTricholoma magnivelare$8.37$17.00$18.69$12.26

Price trends cannot be assessed, given the little information available. The non-wood forest products industry covers such a wide range of species and habitats that biological and commercial production trends are also difficult to assess. This difficulty exists partly because there is a wide range of products, and also because there is very little biological information about many of the species. The industry’s structure is not well understood. It is unknown if there have been significant changes in vertical integration, business size, or ease of entry or exit. Some trends in the industry have already been discussed; for example, the floral industry appears to have constricted recently. Wild edible mushrooms have become a major part of the non-wood forest products industry since the early 1980s.

Data Source and Availability
See "Selected References" for data sources for this indicator.
There is no regularly collected, publicly available data on the value and quantities of production of non-wood forest products. The U.S. Forest Service is designing a national system to collect data on permits issued by national forests. Summaries of this data will be available on the U.S. Forest Service web page for the year 2000 and beyond. The Bureau of Land Management collects permit data and makes summary reports available from BLM district offices. District offices of the Oregon Department of Forestry produce annual reports of private and commercial permits, with information about species and permit revenues.
For a few selected species, biological production is being studied at a local or site-specific level, by universities, the U.S. Forest Service PNW Research Station, and other agencies.
The biology and yield of most species is not well understood. At the retail and wholesale level, values can be collected from buyers’ and sellers’ sites on the Internet. The publications referenced in this report have currently available data on value and commercial production for the non-wood forest products industry as a whole in the Pacific Northwest. Personal use, recreational, and subsistence values have not been estimated.

Reliability of Data
Available information about regional production and value is based on surveys done as study-specific instruments. The Oregon Department of Forestry, Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Forest Service produce summaries of permit data only. Their reports do not have information on how much of the various items is actually collected or what products are made later.

For a few products, data is available on the value and quantities of production. The data varies from site-specific to regional reports

Recommended Action for Data Collection
In Oregon, the non-wood forest products industry is regulated by a patchwork of policies, fees, and regulations. The state of Oregon requires non-wood forest product buyers to record 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 currently 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 the late 1980s, the state of Washington put into effect regulations that required the harvest of wild mushrooms to be reported. The information gathered helped researchers and policymakers to assess market size, prices, domestic consumption, and exports. However, non-compliance and the burden on buyers were serious problems. The regulations were not renewed. In their report to the Committee on Sustainable Forestry, Denison and Donoghue (1992) stated that problems requiring regulation included public health issues, management and conservation issues, and land tenure and economic issues.
Many authors have examined leasing, time restrictions, quality restrictions, geographic restrictions, permit systems, and fee structures (e.g., Acker 1986; Denison and Donoghue 1992; Redhead 1997; and Russell, 1987). The lack of scientific knowledge is one of the most serious problems with the commercial harvest of virtually any non-wood forest product. Russell (1987) suggested that the best way to get information is by regulating its collection from buyers and setting up long-term scientific studies in undisturbed areas.
There is ongoing research on policies, production, monitoring, inventory, biology, and value of non-wood forest products. This research is being done by individuals in numerous agencies and organizations in the Pacific Northwest. For example, research is underway at Oregon State (contact Dan Luoma); the U.S. Forest Service PNW Research Station (contact Roger Fight, Susan Alexander, Nan Vance, Leon Liegel, Dave Pilz or Randy Molina); Washington State University (contact Keith Blatner); University of Washington (contact Rebecca McLain); and the Oregon and Washington Mycological Societies.
Some of this work is summarized at the regular meetings of the Western Oregon Special Forest Products Council, a joint effort at communication sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service (contact John Davis at the Zig Zag Ranger District on Mount Hood National Forest) and the BLM (contact Kathy Browning, Medford District). The state of Oregon can help in these efforts by being a cooperator in ongoing and proposed research studies, and by defining problem areas for study funding.


Selected References
Acker, Randy. 1986. Harvesting wild edible mushrooms in Washington: an issue paper. Department of Natural Resources, Olympia, WA. Prepared for the Wild Edible Mushroom Task Group, November 3, 1986.
Alexander, S. J., and D. Pilz, et. al. In preparation. Price projections of commercial mushrooms and timber in the Pacific Northwest.
Allen, John W. 1950. Marketing woodlot products in the State of Washington. Bulletin 1. Washington Department of Conservation and Development, Institute of Forest Products, Olympia, WA. 61 p.
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 U.S. Forest Service PNW Research Station.
Cronemiller, Jynn F., and John B. Woods, Charles H. Ladd, et. al. 1950. Secret treasures in the forest. Bulletin 14. Oregon State Board of Forestry, Salem, OR.
Denison, William C., and John Donoghue. 1992. Regulating the wild mushroom industry. Report to the Committee on Sustainable Forestry, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR. May 12, 1992.
Douglass, Bernard S. 1975. Floral greenery from Pacific Northwest forests. U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR. 35 p.
Heckman, Hazel. 1951. The happy brush pickers of the high Cascades. Saturday Evening Post 4:35-40. October 6, 1951.
McRobert, Gussie. 1985. A walk on the wild side. Oregon Business. October: 105-106.
Meyer Resources, Inc. 1995. A preliminary analysis of the economic importance of the 1994 pine mushroom industry of the Nass Valley area, British Columbia. Victoria, BC.
Norvell, L. 1995. Loving the chanterelle to death? The ten-year Oregon chanterelle project. McIlvainea 12(1): 6-25.
Pilz, D., and J. Smith, M. P. Amaranthus, S. Alexander, R. Molina, and D. Luoma. 1999. Mushrooms and timber: managing commercial harvesting in the Oregon Cascades. Journal of Forestry 97(3):4-11.
Redhead, Scott A. 1997. The pine mushroom industry in Canada and the United States: why it exists and where it is going. In: Palm, Mary E., and Ignacio H. Chapela, editors; Mycology in Sustainable Development: Expanding Concepts, Vanishing Borders. Parkway Publishers, Inc. Boone, NC.
Russell, Kenelm W. 1987. What we need to know about commercial harvesting. McIlvainea 8(1):37-41.
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 p. 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. 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. Research Note 59. U.S. Forest Service, PNW Forest and Range Experiment Station, Portland, OR. 10 p.
USDA Forest Service. Special Forest Products: Region 6 update.
USDA Forest Service. 1982. An analysis of the timber situation in the United States 1989-2040. General Technical Report RM-199. U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, CO.
USDA Forest Service. 1990. An analysis of the timber situation in the United States 1952-2030. Forest Resource Report No. 23. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.
Warren, D. D. 1996. Production, prices, employment and trade in Northwest forest industries, first quarter 1996. Research Bulletin PNW-RB-215. U.S. Forest Service, PNW Research Station, Portland, OR.
Warren, D. D. 1998. Production, prices, employment and trade in Northwest forest industries, second quarter 1997. Research Bulletin PNW-RB-228. U.S. Forest Service PNW Research Station, Portland, OR.