Agroforestry/Non-Timber Forest Products Overview
There has been a surge of interest in recent years in generating income from woodlots without cutting down trees. Many terms have been used to encompass these activities, including alternative agriculture, agroforestry, and special forest products. However, the term that is most frequently used is 'non-timber forest products'.
Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) are any plant based material other than trees of commercial value that can be harvested from forests. Examples include medicinal plants, mushrooms, greenery, and decorative plants. Some of these products are simply collected, while others are being researched to find methods to grow them in forest settings to supplement and protect wild stocks.
Marketing methods vary considerably. Some products are sold through local outlets such as restaurants, farmer's markets, flower shops, and local crafters. Others are sold to buyers who in turn process the material or sell to larger companies.
The articles in this section are overviews of the NTFPs industry. There are numerous sources of reference. Some of the articles are followed by extensive resource lists including web sites, organizations, and books relating to forest products. One of the best sources of information is the Non-Timber Forest Products homepage located at http://www.sfp.forprod.vt.edu/special_fp.htm . This site is a cooperative effort of the Virginia Tech Department of Wood Science and Forest Products, the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station and the Top of the Ozarks RC& D in Missouri. These groups are collaborating to develop and operate a web site devoted to gathering information on products and markets. They are compiling information in simple formats to provide a national clearing house for NTFPs - accessible to harvesters and growers, marketers, processors, and end-users.
Another good source of information is ATTRA, the center for Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas. ATTRA is the national sustainable information service operated by the National Center for Appropriate Technology, which falls under the USDA Rural Business - Cooperative Service. They are physically headquartered in Fayetteville, Arkansas (P.O. Box 3657, zip 72702). They have online publications at http://www.attra.ncat.org . They can also be reached by phone at 1-800-346-9140.
Virginia also has several individuals who are very knowledgeable in the field of NTFPs. All of these individuals have written some of the publications in this resource manual, and can be reached for specific questions. They are as follows:
Associate Professor, Forest Products Marketing and Management
Wood Science & Forest Products
210D Cheatham Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061-0323
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Extension Specialist-Alternative Agriculture
Virginia State University
Petersburg, VA 23806
Charles W. Becker III
Utilization & Marketing
VA Department of Forestry
900 Natural Resources Dr., Suite 800
Charlottesville, VA 22903
Date Last Modified: 01/30/2006