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Research Project: Enhancing Environmental Quality and Ecosystem Services in Southeastern U.S. Coastal Plain Agricultural Watersheds

Location: Southeast Watershed Research

Title: Chapter 6: Economics of non-timber forest products in the United States

Author
item Frey, Gregory - Us Forest Service (FS)
item Blatner, Keith - Washington State University
item Jacobson, Michael - Pennsylvania State University
item Starbuck-downes, C.megan - New Mexico State University
item Sills, Erin - North Carolina State University
item Mercer, D.evan - Us Forest Service (FS)
item Alexander, Susan - Us Forest Service (FS)
item Chamberlain, James - Us Forest Service (FS)
item Gold, Michael - University Of Missouri
item Godsey, Larry - Missouri Valley College
item Emery, Marla - Us Forest Service (FS)
item Coffin, Alisa

Submitted to: USDA Forest Service Research Notes
Publication Type: Government Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/2/2018
Publication Date: 7/23/2018
Citation: Frey, G., Blatner, K., Jacobson, M., Starbuck-Downes, C., Sills, E., Mercer, D., Alexander, S., Chamberlain, J., Gold, M., Godsey, L., Emery, M., Coffin, A.W. 2018. Chapter 6: Economics of non-timber forest products in the United States. USDA Forest Service Research Notes. https://doi.org/10.2727/SRS-GTR-232.

Interpretive Summary: “Non-timber forest products” (NTFPs) encompass a broad class of edible, wood-based, decorative, and medicinal goods derived from various plant and fungus parts (Chamberlain and others 1998). NTFPs do provide significant economic benefits to users in the United States; however, many of these values have not been systematically researched or quantified (Alexander and others 2001). Interest in assessing the economic value, impact, and potential of non-timber forest products surged in the 1990s and early 2000s probably in part because of controversies over the impact of timber harvest on endangered species and other conservation priorities; NTFPs seemed like a way to generate income and maintain standing forests (Robbins and others 2008). Since that time, new economic research has tapered off, although there are occasional updates and new studies. Still, research to date in the U.S. and transferable knowledge from other countries provide an important baseline of evidence. NTFPs, as well as their harvesters and consumers have very diverse characteristics, as underscored by the following list of dichotomies: • NTFP collection, consumption, and trade may involve a monetary transaction (market) or no monetary transaction (non-market). Monetary trades can be through formal or informal markets. • NTFP collection, consumption, and trade have important values both for individual households (micro) and the overall economy (macro). • NTFPs may be wild-harvested or forest farmed. Wild-harvested products have limited production costs for the harvester. Forest farmed products follow a more traditional investment-return model. • Individuals may be influenced to begin wild-harvesting or forest farming by an array of factors including their own personal circumstances (internal) and the outside economy, markets, culture, and geography (external). Because of this diversity, any synthesis of the economics of NTFPs must include various levels of thought. This chapter is roughly organized around the first two dichotomies above (figure AA). Section 6.2 examines the overall value of NTFPs, in terms of prices and quantities traded, in regional markets (market, macro). Section 6.3 discusses financial returns from production of NTFPs on individual farms/woodlots (market, micro). Section 6.4 explores the valuation of broader benefits of NTFPs not traded in markets (non-market, macro). Section 6.5 considers how NTFPs contribute to the well-being of households other than direct income (non-market, micro). The following sections consider two topics that span these areas: the factors that are correlated with NTFP harvest and production (6.6), and economic risks from climate change that are related to NTFPs (6.7).

Technical Abstract: “Non-timber forest products” (NTFPs) encompass a broad class of edible, wood-based, decorative, and medicinal goods derived from various plant and fungus parts (Chamberlain and others 1998). NTFPs do provide significant economic benefits to users in the United States; however, many of these values have not been systematically researched or quantified (Alexander and others 2001). Interest in assessing the economic value, impact, and potential of non-timber forest products surged in the 1990s and early 2000s probably in part because of controversies over the impact of timber harvest on endangered species and other conservation priorities; NTFPs seemed like a way to generate income and maintain standing forests (Robbins and others 2008). Since that time, new economic research has tapered off, although there are occasional updates and new studies. Still, research to date in the U.S. and transferable knowledge from other countries provide an important baseline of evidence. NTFPs, as well as their harvesters and consumers have very diverse characteristics, as underscored by the following list of dichotomies: • NTFP collection, consumption, and trade may involve a monetary transaction (market) or no monetary transaction (non-market). Monetary trades can be through formal or informal markets. • NTFP collection, consumption, and trade have important values both for individual households (micro) and the overall economy (macro). • NTFPs may be wild-harvested or forest farmed. Wild-harvested products have limited production costs for the harvester. Forest farmed products follow a more traditional investment-return model. • Individuals may be influenced to begin wild-harvesting or forest farming by an array of factors including their own personal circumstances (internal) and the outside economy, markets, culture, and geography (external). Because of this diversity, any synthesis of the economics of NTFPs must include various levels of thought. This chapter is roughly organized around the first two dichotomies above (figure AA). Section 6.2 examines the overall value of NTFPs, in terms of prices and quantities traded, in regional markets (market, macro). Section 6.3 discusses financial returns from production of NTFPs on individual farms/woodlots (market, micro). Section 6.4 explores the valuation of broader benefits of NTFPs not traded in markets (non-market, macro). Section 6.5 considers how NTFPs contribute to the well-being of households other than direct income (non-market, micro). The following sections consider two topics that span these areas: the factors that are correlated with NTFP harvest and production (6.6), and economic risks from climate change that are related to NTFPs (6.7).