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ForestHarvest: non-timber forest products in Scotland



NTFP inventory

The importance of inventory

In order to make informed decisions about the management and development of NTFPs, it is essential to gain a sound knowledge of the resource. What is out there, where, and in what quantities?

Developing a methodology

Methodologies for NTFP inventory have been developed in many parts of the world. These usually involve a combination of quantitative surveying (i.e. species presence and density per unit area), habitat definition and mapping, and extrapolation based on a combination of these data. Local knowledge should also play an important part in the inventory process where possible. The most appropriate method depends on local circumstances, including forest area, habitat complexity, local needs and the nature of the 'target species'.

The environmental NGO Reforesting Scotland has developed a methodology for use in this country. This has been focused primarily on small community woodlands, but they have also produced a draft strategy for identifying areas of woodland with NTFP potential. This takes various factors into account, including:

  • Presence, abundance and quality of the NTFP
  • Environmental and biological considerations
  • Potential for further development of the resource (e.g. cultivation)
  • Social considerations (current activities in the wood, ease of access etc.)
  • Demand for the product
  • Harvesting impact (e.g. on conservation species or the woodland habitat)

The Reforesting Scotland Non-Timber Forest Product Inventory Method is available to download here (PDF file 757KB)

Inventory in the Amazon

Biometrics and NTFP inventory

NTFP inventory in British Colombia

Developing needs-based inventory methods

Case studies

In the course of developing their draft methodology, Reforesting Scotland conducted a series of test surveys in community woodlands around Scotland.

The Finlets wood in Grampian, for example, was found to show most promise as a source of berry species such as blaeberry and cowberry. It was suggested that the productivity of these species might be improved by canopy thinning and grazing control, although the implications of such changes would need to be weighed against the potential gains in terms of NTFPs.

The results of this survey were extrapolated for the whole of the Grampian region, on the basis of the mapped area of a 'similar' forest type. This predicted 1890 ha of blaeberries, 4282 ha of cowberries, and 28,825 rowan trees.

Training for communities

As part of Reforesting Scotland's Rural Alternatives Shared Futures project, four community woodland groups were given training in NTFP inventory methods. One example is the survey of Newtonhill Woods, 6th and 7th October 2006 (Word document 27KB).