Harvesting Floral Greens in Western Washington as Value-Addition: Labor Issues and Globalization

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"One of the ways that communities can use value-added activities to transform their forests into economic assets is to add their labor to the resource. To this end, ethnically diverse communities of interest in western Washington and Oregon are increasingly harvesting wild non-timber forest products (NTFP?s), particularly floral greens, from both private and public lands. Harvesters, primarily from Latin American countries, hand-pick a variety of species, often using very little in the way of technology or initial capital investment. However, with new access to refrigeration containers and global markets, these floral greens are shipped primarily to Western Europe, competing directly with other floral greens species grown on plantations in the tropics. Rules of access to the land vary from landowner to landowner, and may or may not require documentation, contracts, and permitting fees that are difficult to obtain for many harvesters. Floral greens harvesters in the Pacific Northwest therefore face a variety of challenges in the face of globalization, and have developed a number of ways to approach their unique labor context. Though harvesters work primarily as individuals or small groups in their negotiations with landowners and wholesalers, recently, one group has formed an association that can collectively bargain with landowners and wholesalers for better land access and better prices for their product. Landowners are now requesting contractual agreements with this association to manage the understory of the forest for biodiversity and NTFP?s, forests that have previously been managed only for timber production. The outcome of this attempt to improve harvester livelihoods and sustain healthier forests remains to be seen, but will hopefully provide lessons for local forest-dependent communities dealing with the challenges of globalization."



IASC, forest products, globalization, labor, harvesting, plants, forest management, common pool resources, land tenure and use