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Kruger, Steve [1], Munsell, John [2], Chamberlain, James L. [3], Davis, Jeanine [4], Huish, Ryan [5], Prisley, Stephen [6].

Interdisciplinary Approaches to Interpreting Nontimber Forest Product Harvest Distributions in Appalachia .

Harvesting medicinal plants has a long history in Appalachian forests, and today the practice remains a source of income, identity and sense of place within Appalachian communities. Assessing the economic value of non-timber forest products (NTFPs), the size and structure of their markets and the impact of harvests on plant populations is difficult due to a lack of systematically collected region-wide data. An ongoing study at Virginia Tech seeks to create a voluntary, replicable mechanism for estimating the variety, trade volume and origin of commercially traded Appalachian NTFP species.
Initial results show that harvest is concentrated in certain areas within the plants' ranges. We identified a number of explanations for why plants may be harvested more in some areas than others from conversations with medicinal plant buyers and from NTFP literature. These include the presence of plant habitat, economic instability, an established tradition of wildcrafting, the genealogy of the industry, land ownership, land access and the prevalence of certain land uses such as agriculture, tourism and extractive industries such as logging and coal mining. We created variables to represent these explanations and correlated them with harvest distribution data from the survey.
Biophysical, socio-economic and political realities all influence commercial NTFP harvests differently throughout what is often considered a homogenous region. Understanding how interesecting local and extralocal conditions affect harvesting practices can help terget efforts at cultivation, conservation and management for these important species and help identify potential barriers for participation, barriers often built on nuanced personal experiences of the same forces. This is especially relevant as the economy of much of the region changes and with it the future of land use and land ownership.


1 - Virginia Tech, Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, 1597 Cascade Drive, Pembroke, VA, 24136, USA
2 - Virginia Tech, Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, 304 Cheatham Hall, Blacksburg, VA, 24061, USA
3 - USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, 1710 Research Center Drive, Blacksburg, VA, 24060, USA
4 - North Carolina State University, Horticultural Science, 455 Research Drive , Mills River, NC, 28759, USA
5 - UVA Wise, Biology, Science Center, Wise, VA, 24293, USA
6 - Virginia Tech, Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, 319 Cheatham Hall, Blacksburg, VA, 24061, USA

Keywords:
Appalachia
medicinal plants
Extractive Industry
forest farming
Commons
Nontimber Forest Products
Human Geography.

Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Number:
Abstract ID:61
Candidate for Awards:None