Introduction

Nontimber forest products (NTFP) include almost everything you find in the woods that is not timber. The term refers to the many products of forest origin that enhance or contribute to our lifestyles and our livelihoods. Collecting and using these products is an integral part of our common regional history and economy and commonly generates strong social and cultural connections.

NTFPs are the various berries, ferns, and mushrooms we pick to eat. They are the game that sustains our families. They are the plants gathered to use in various medicines, the roots and barks collected for basketry and crafts, and the seed cones used to regenerate forests. NTFPs are the balsam boughs and princess pine that, when worked by careful hands, become the wreaths that decorate homes during the holidays. For some people, NTFPs provide affordable outdoor recreation opportunities that strengthen social bonds and ties to the land. For others, they generate a much-needed paycheck.

This chapter introduces the richness of NTFPs. It highlights their value, as well as challenges, and presents some crucial considerations for landowners interested in reaping the rewards from the many goods in their woods. NTFPs may allow you to achieve better forest management and a more stable forest livelihood through the development of complementary forest resource management strategies.