Local Ecological Knowledge and Management of Salal (Gaultheria shallon) by Mobile Forest Workers in Olympic Peninsula, Washington, USA

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"Challenging many assumptions about what constitutes 'local knowledge', immigrant Latino and Southeast Asian harvesters of non-timber forest products on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington possess extensive ecological knowledge of overstory-understory relationships and how forestry practices affect understory biological and commercial production. Specifically, harvesters of salal (Gaultheria shallon), an understory shrub in used in the multi-million dollar floral greens industry, possess different kinds of resource management knowledge depending on whether they are longer-term resident harvesters or more recent newcomers to the area. Harvesters who have lived and worked in the area for many years often have more ecological process knowledge, whereas newcomers who have arrived more recently often haveidentification and harvest knowledge only. An added layer of complexity emerges because although many harvesters working in the floral greens industry are considered to be mobile workers, many return year after year to the same forests. Interviews conducted with salal harvesters in 2001 - 2003 reveal that the differences in kinds of ecological knowledge may also correlate with differences in intensity of harvesting practices and, consequently, sustainability of the resource. Understanding how resource management knowledge differs between long-term and new harvesters can inform public and private forest land managers in their efforts to develop appropriate access and permitting policies for floral greens and other non-timber forest resources in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Harvester ecological knowledge is also an untapped resource for forest managers working toward co-management of timber and non-timber products from private and public lands."



IASC, harvesting, plants, local knowledge, forest products, co-management