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Environmental News


Original editor for Send2Press: Christopher L. Simmons

Institute for Culture and Ecology (IFCAE) National Study Finds Forest Biodiversity And Harvesters Neglected By Forest Management

Possible major economic and environmental loss

Portland, OR - April 13, 2004 /Send2Press Newswire/ -- Researchers at the nonprofit Institute for Culture and Ecology based in Portland, Oregon received a grant from the National Commission on Science for Sustainable Forestry to study the relationship between biodiversity conservation, forest management, and nontimber forest products (NTFPs) such as mushrooms, medicinal plants, and floral greens, and thousands of other wild forest species harvested from the nation's forests. The reports are now available on the IFCAE website at

Anthropologists Eric T. Jones and Kathryn Lynch traveled 37,000 miles across the lower 48 states in a Volkswagen van interviewing hundreds of people who harvest what are known as "nontimber forest products" to gather the data for this study. They also surveyed U.S. Forest Service and state forestry managers to find out how they are managing forests for nontimber forest products.

They discovered that gathering forest products, an ancient human activity, continues to be of widespread commercial and noncommercial importance to urban and rural people throughout the country.

Harvesters report a loss of critical harvesting habitat and biological diversity, not from harvesting, but from logging, grazing, development, recreation, and other forest uses. As one harvester states, "A lot of my good 'seng' (ginseng) ground has been taken away when they go in and clearcut it. It will take fifty years before anybody can find 'seng' back in there again." The study argues that the Forest Service has failed to properly assess the economic losses, the impacts to harvester livelihoods, and the consequences for biodiversity protection. Inventorying and monitoring of nontimber forest products is minimal or non-existent. The reason managers most commonly gave for not doing inventories and monitoring was lack of funding.

Lynch argues that participatory inventory and monitoring programs that involve harvesters in data collection, similar to the Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count, offer one solution to the funding issue.

Not only do NTFPs comprise a significant part of the biological diversity of forest ecosystems, but given the lack of scientific NTFP research, the many people who harvest NTFPs part or fulltime have the most knowledge about them. Efforts to conserve biodiversity are unlikely to succeed unless knowledge about NTFPs, and the effects on them of various forest management activities such as timber removal, grazing, prescribed burning, and NTFP harvesting practices, becomes an integral part of forest management.

The complete reports are available free on the IFCAE website at

Additional Information on IFCAE
The Institute for Culture and Ecology is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to carry out research and education that contributes to the understanding of cultural and environmental relationships and natural resource problem solving. Their approach draws on domestic and international experience, multiple scientific theories, and qualitative and quantitative methods.

The Institute is internationally recognized for its cutting-edge research, innovative cross-cultural and interdisciplinary approach, and the ability to forge solutions to complex cultural and environmental problems.

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