Mike Reichenbach, University of Minnesota Extension Service
Non-timber forest products are being harvested from Minnesota's forests and support a growing number of small and large businesses. For example, the harvest of balsam boughs is estimated to be a $20 million-plus-per-year industry. Other products are also harvested; however, the level of harvest for any particular product often ebbs and flows.
New uses for products are occasionally discovered and developed. This is true of paper birch, where the bark has been found to contain compounds that have potential use in medicines and paint pigments. Just as the interest in and the level of harvest vary from product to product, so does the level of management of the forest for the sustainable harvest of these products.
In August and September 2000, land managers were invited to attend one of two meetings that addressed the question, "Are current forest management practices adequate to assure the sustainable use of non-timber forest products?" These meetings were held-not to promote the use of any one plant or group of plants-but to increase awareness about what is being harvested and to help define forest management needs in relation to resource sustainability.
This collection of articles has been compiled from personal notes, submitted papers, and interviews with the presenters.
Partial funding provided by the USDA-Forest Service State and Private Forestry
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