Managing for Multiple Values

Non-timber forest products, or NTFPs, are all of the botanical (plant) and mycological (mushroom & fungus) resources and associated services of the forest other than timber, pulpwood, shakes, or other conventional wood products.

NTFPs offer a range of potential management and financial opportunities through activities focused on production from natural communities, to the intensive propagation of native plants for a variety of purposes. Management strategies can help in achieving a variety of goals including maintaining long-term ecological and economic viability, protecting endangered ecosystems, and restoring or reclaiming ecosystems. Many variables influence the choice of management strategy including resource cost and availability, traditional uses and concerns, and the ecology and sustainability of the native species being considered.

The purpose of this learning object is to provide users with an understanding of the continuum of management practices in the NTFP sector from little or no intervention to intensive intervention, as well as an introduction to the potential implications (environmental, social and economic) of the various management approaches. The four management approaches illustrated here are:

  1. Resource Protection and Natural Harvesting (Least Intervention)
    Protection and minimal in situ management of non-timber forest resources for long-term resource sustainability.
  2. Resource Enhancement and Restoration
    Improving the productivity of NTFP resources through ecosystem manipulation, including the re-introduction of important ecological influences (i.e. fire for dry land shrubs, forbs, grasses, and mushrooms).
  3. Landscaping and Land Reclamation
    Use of native plants on large and small scales to meet reclamation objectives and urban or institutional landscaping needs.
  4. Intensive Horticultural Production
    The intensive production of high-value NTFPs such as berries, mushrooms, medicinal herbs, and floral greens.

In “A Suggested Decision-Making Framework for NTFP Managers” you will find a model for considering the viability of potential management projects.


This strategy involves the management of NTFP resources in situ for long-term resource sustainability and promotes:

  • resource protection,
  • sustainable harvest, and
  • economic development within this framework.

As you work through the material on this strategy, keep in mind the following key questions:

Can this NTFP resource be protected?
What framework is available or needed to protect and sustainably manage the NTFP resource? (1)

What information is needed?
Do we have enough information on species ecology, harvesting impacts, etc., to manage these resources sustainably? (2)

Are there currently any resource planning or decision making processes in place?
Are there government regulations, resource planning processes, or community protocols relating to NTFP harvesting? (3)a

Who will control and protect the harvest?
Of the possible entities involved in NTFP harvesting (individuals, groups, communities, small business, corporations, etc.), which one is best-placed to ensure the sustainable management of the resource? (4)   (5)

To work effectively in this area, resource managers need to work within existing resource planning and decision-making processes to protect and manage NTFP resources


Click on the bracketed number above or the image below to view the corresponding video.

(1) Education

(2) Native Plant Harvesting

(3) Blackwater Management Plan

(4) Local Management

(5) Community Driven Management

Education Education Education Education Education

Betty Shore and Shirley Pietila
[Video Transcript]

Laura Duncan
[Video Transcript]

Shirley Pietila
[Video Transcript]

Betty Shore
[Video Transcript]

Chief Fred Sampson
[Video Transcript]

Some examples of people and businesses working within this management framework include:

  • The Siska Nation owns and runs an NTFP business that relies on the community’s ability to access and harvest these resources in their traditional territory. (6)
  • Betty Shore is a pioneer in the wild mushroom industry and now harvests a range of non-timber forest resources from the forest. (7)
  • Rick Ross is owner of Western Evergreens, a floral greens business on Vancouver Island that relies on access to forest lands. (8)

(6) Community Driven Success

(7) Floral Green Harvest

(8) Resource Protection

Education Education Education

Chief Fred Sampson
[Video Transcript]

Betty Shore
[Video Transcript]

Rick Ross
[Video Transcript]

Another potential component of resource protection is eco-cultural tourism. Eco-cultural tourism has broad application in terms of nature and First Nations cultural interpretive programs and cultural handicraft production, and more specific application in promoting the value and the protection of threatened and endangered ecosystems.

One example of eco-cultural tourism is the Nk’mip Desert and Heritage Centre operated by the Osoyoos Indian Band. (9) Shelley Witzky, an ecotour guide at the Centre, explains the goals of the Centre and describes the significant NTFPs on the site. (10)

(9) Nk'mip Centre

(10) Ecocultural Tourism

Education Education

Shelley Witzky
[Video Transcript]

Shelley Witzky
[Video Transcript]

a For more information regarding this story consult the Olivotto Timber Forest Modelling Consultants; Timber Harvesting Plan for the Blackwater Pine Mushroom Management Area, Small Business Forest Enterprise Program, British Columbia, Ministry of Forests, Squamish Forest District, Squamish, BC, 1994).

This strategy focuses on improving the productivity of NTFP resources in situ through restoring degraded natural areas or enhancing natural areas through a range of activities including the reintroduction of important ecological influences such as fire.

As you work through the material on this strategy, keep in mind the following key questions:

Will the NTFP resource benefit from enhancement or restoration?
What opportunities exist to increase the productivity of the resource? (11)

What opportunities exist for co-operation with other resource managers and what agreements will be required?
A wide range of opportunities exist for co-operation with other resource managers. For example, tree canopy manipulation through variable-retention logging will enhance the productivity of some light-sensitive NTFPs.

Who will enhance, restore and monitor the resource and what are the practical considerations in implementing this strategy?
Who will be responsible for the work? Can the work be done by individuals, communities or groups, or will it need to be contracted out to resource specialists? Who will pay for enhancement and restoration activities? What will the benefits be and who will be the beneficiaries? (12)

What scientific and practical studies can be consulted about the technique or project being considered?
There may be existing information that will assist in decision-making and/or the implementation of the management strategy. (13)

(11) Burn Affected NTFPs

(12) Harper Lake

(13) Miller Creek Burn Experiment


Mike Keefer

Dawn Morrison

Mike Keefer

This strategy covers the production of native plants in a nursery setting for urban and institutional landscaping (for aesthetic reasons, to attract wildlife, reduce water consumption, and for other purposes) and for larger-scale land reclamation programs including where wildlife habitat may be a major reclamation objective. This management strategy promotes:

  1. Native plant landscaping for small to large applications; and
  2. Larger-scale reclamation utilizing native plants where feasible.

As you work through the material on this strategy, keep in mind the following key questions:

What is the potential for propagating the NTFP species using intensive nursery production methods?
What is involved in propagating the species in the nursery? Is it a simple straightforward process, or complex and difficult? Is nursery production the best method for increasing the population of the NTFP? (14) (15)

Is there a commercial market for the native plant species?
Does the selected NTFP have a potential market in the home or institutional landscaping sector or in large-scale reclamation programs? (16) (17) (18)

Is reclamation a practical strategy for the site?
Is land reclamation the best solution for the situation? Will reclamation establish a functional wildlife habitat or provide some other ecological service? (19) (20)

(14) Cowichan Nursery

(15) Propagation

(16) Benefits of NTFP Landscaping

(17) Target Customers

Education Education Education Education

Ren Elliott & Fabian Tommy

Mike Keefer

Laura Duncan

Mike Keefer

(18) Xeriscaping

(19) Panoramic View

(20) Elkview Coal Mine


Mike Keefer

Left click on your mouse and drag

Dave Ryder

Some examples of this management technique include:

Ken Elliott and Fabian Tommy operate a native plant nursery for the Cowichan Tribes. In these video clips, they discuss the importance of the nursery in maintaining traditional plants and culture, as well as providing native plants for other uses. (21) (22) (23)

(21) Loss of Cultural Plants

(22) Cultural Awareness

(23) Nursery Objectives


Ken Elliott

Fabian Tommy

Fabian Tommy & Ken Elliott

Mike Keefer, an ethnobotanist from Cranbrook, BC has established a native plant nursery in conjunction with the St. Mary’s Band. Mike discusses some of the challenges of the native plant nursery business. The nursery has had good success with propagating native plants largely for restoration/reclamation applications. (24) (25) (26)

(24) History of Nursery

(25) Nursery Challenges

(26) NTFPs in the Nursery


Mike Keefer

Mike Keefer

Mike Keefer

Laura Duncan, an ecological restorationist in Kimberly BC has landscaped her backyard with native plant species. (27) (28)

(27) Native Plant Landscaping Video

(28) Native Plants Video


Laura Duncan

Laura Duncan

Dave Ryder, Senior Environmental Coordinator, is in charge of land reclamation at the Elkview Coal Mine in Sparwood, BC. The mine engages in reclamation work on a vast scale. Dave discusses some of the challenges of utilizing native species in large-scale land reclamation. (29) (30)

(29) 360 degree spin

(30) Agronomic vs Native Grasses


Left click on your mouse and drag

Dave Ryder

Moving the production of non-timber forest product species from the wild into intensive cultivation is an ancient practice that continues to this day. Intensive horticultural production of NTFPs is likely to be appropriate only for certain high-value species, well-suited for cultivation. This strategy involves:

  1. moving specific NTFP species into intensive horticultural production
  2. the development of markets for intensively produced NTFPs

As you work through the material on this strategy, keep in mind the following key questions:

Can the NTFP be produced as a horticultural crop?
Is the NTFP suited to horticultural production? What are the challenges of growing the crop outside of its native environment? (31)

Is there a commercial market for the NTFP?
What is the market potential for the crop? Does the potential exist for producing added-value products? Is it economically feasible to produce the crop in a horticultural setting? (32) (33)

Alwin and Connie Dyrland operate the Saskatoon Berry Farm in Cobble Hill, BC. Saskatoon berries are a good example of an ‘NTFP’ still at a relatively early stage of the transition to an intensively managed, horticultural crop. As the Dyrlands point out, horticultural production of these crops can be labour intensive. To increase the returns from their operation, they produce a wide range of value-added products on-farm. (34) (35)

(31) History of Farm

(32) Market Part 1

(33) Market Part 2

(34) Farming Lifestyle

(35) Saskatoon Berry NTFPs


Alwin and Connie Dyrland

Alwin and Connie Dyrland

Alwin and Connie Dyrland

Connie Dyrland

Connie Dyrland

There are several different factors that need to be considered when making decisions about appropriate NTFP management strategies including: sustainability, supply, profitability, market potential, rights to harvest, and cultural/social issues. Each of these should be evaluated for any given project and your decisions based on the range of information you collect. The factors suggested below are just some of those that should be considered in resource management decisions.

  1. Sustainability — Can this product be harvested in a sustainable way that will not deplete the resource over time or will harvesting materially deplete supply and substantially affect other components of the eco-system? (We are referring here to the POTENTIAL for sustainable harvest. No species that is considered rare or endangered should be considered for harvesting. Impacts of harvesting or processing on the environment should also be considered; i.e., are there ‘negative externalities’ associated with harvesting?)

    Relevance for Management — i.e., If product cannot be sustainably managed for wild harvesting, commercial use is likely only appropriate for cultivated supplies.

    Rate the sustainability of your project


  2. Supply Issues — Is the product abundant and widespread? Is the product accessible enough to be obtained at an acceptable cost, relative to its value? (Answering this question with a high degree of certainty may require an inventory of NTFP resources in the area. The product could be widely occurring or scarce and geographically or eco-system specific. The product could occur year round and allow annual sustainable harvest or have seasonal or cyclical variations in volume and occurrence.)

    Relevance for Management — i.e., If the product is abundant in the wild (and can be sustainably harvested) it may not be economically feasible to bring it into intensive production unless doing so provides other advantages (i.e., blueberries – ease of harvest).

    Rate the supply of your product


  3. Profitability — Are the potential returns from the product adequate to support the intensification of management? Will producers reap a reasonable return for an additional investment of effort? Can the product be harvested, processed (as necessary) and transported to markets and still provide a profit? (The return on investment of NTFP production must be considered. The cost of harvesting, processing and sale of the product must provide enough of a return to attract investors/entrepreneurs.

    Relevance for Management — i.e., If a particular NTFP is highly profitable, this could provide an added impetus to management intensification. Without increased management, the result could be unsustainable exploitation of wild populations. If the NTFP is moderately (or less than moderately) profitable, it is unlikely that intensification will be economically viable (unless intensification significantly increases profitability – see blueberry example).

    Rate the profitability of your project


  4. Jurisdictional Considerations — Where will harvesting occur? Are there any issues surrounding jurisdiction that must be addressed (i.e., permitting, community protocols, international agreements, etc.)?

    Rate the jurisdictional considerations of your project


  5. Tenure Requirements — Can this product be harvested profitably without land tenure or exclusive harvesting rights or does it require a long term tenure and exclusive use rights so that the results of area improvements are directed to the benefit of the tenure holder?

    Rate the tenure requirements of your project


  6. Cultural/Social Issues — Are there any cultural or social issues regarding the wild harvesting of these products? (The NTFP may have spiritual, social, environmental and/or cultural significance to First Nations. The product could also be valued in its natural state by social mores.)

    Relevance for Management — i.e., There may be a need for enhancement or intensive cultivation if products are highly valued for non-commercial purposes (as in huckleberries in southeast BC used as an important traditional feast food.) These products may be better suited for cultural tourism rather than commercial harvesting.

    Rate the cultural constraints on your project


As a concerned citizen, you have been asked to sit on a public advisory team looking at issues surrounding non-timber forest product (NTFP) harvesting on southern Vancouver Island on both crown and private forest land.

In public meetings on the issue, you are hearing presentations from landowners, NTFP harvesters, environmentalists, and other stakeholders. Most of the discussion centres around the harvesting of salal (Gaultheria shallon) for the floral greenery market, which – with a value estimated in the tens of millions of dollars annually – is the most valuable NTFP harvested on the Island.

  • harvesters are losing access to stands of salal as logging roads are de-commissioned
  • younger trees are being harvested, wiping out high quality salal stands in the forest understory;
  • environmentalists (including recreational forest users) are concerned about garbage left in the woods by pickers and the possibility that salal is, or could be, over-harvested; and
  • landowners (including large forest companies) are concerned about harvesters trespassing on private land.

Your advisory team has been asked to look at the available evidence and suggest a management strategy that balances the need for access to salal supplies for harvesters, with the concerns of other stakeholders. In the team discussions, you recognize and consider a number of conditions:

  • NTFP harvesting needs to be sustainable.
  • You need to maintain employment in the industry.
  • You need to meet social concerns.

Of the four management strategies you have to choose from, which would you choose to recommend in the final report from the advisory team?

Choose a management strategy below by clicking on the link.

  1. Resource Protection and Natural Harvesting
  2. Resource Enhancement and Restoration
  3. Landscaping and Land Reclamation Use
  4. Intensive Horticultural Production

As a summer program intern with a community economic development group in south eastern BC, you are assisting in the development of a management plan for non-timber forest products (NTFPs) on crown land. The key goal for the plan is to establish a basis for the development of NTFPs that is environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable. A steering committee has been established for the project consisting of First Nations representatives, other local land managers, and community economic development advisors.

One of the most important NTFPs in the area is the black huckleberry (Vaccinium membranaceum), widely considered to be the most delicious of the huckleberries and blueberries. The extensive commercial harvesting of the berry -- mainly for US buyers -- speaks to the high commercial potential for this NTFP. At the same time, there are a number of issues that must be addressed if the black huckleberry is to be developed in a manner compatible with the goals of the project.

Commercial harvesting activities have created considerable concern for the local First Nation. The black huckleberry plays an important role in First Nations culture as a feast food, and the Elders have expressed concern about commercial harvesters clearing out many of the best patches, depriving local people (and wildlife) of an important source of sustenance as well as infringing on traditional cultural practices. In an area of high unemployment, current commercial harvesting has provided little in the way of positive benefits for local people who want to capture more value from these resources.

Although berries are still relatively abundant, long-term supply is another key concern for the various stakeholders. Traditional management included burning berry patches to reduce competition and shading from trees and other shrubs. Fire suppression -- a cornerstone of land management in the province for more than 50 years -- has greatly reduced the size and productivity of berry patches. Without fire, favoured berry patches have become overgrown, and bushes are producing fewer and fewer berries.

The local community is supportive of sustainable huckleberry development if the various concerns can be addressed.

Your challenge is to present the steering committee with a suitable management strategy (or strategies) that has the potential to address local concerns. Of the four management strategies you have to choose from, which would you choose to present to the steering committee as the best choice for the project?

Choose a management strategy below by clicking on the link.

  1. Resource Protection and Natural Harvesting
  2. Resource Enhancement and Restoration
  3. Landscaping and Land Reclamation Use
  4. Intensive Horticultural Production


Betty Shore

Betty ShoreA pioneer in the wild mushroom industry.

Shirley Pietla

Shirley PietlaA long time mushroom buyer, Shirley lives in D'arcy, BC.

Laura Duncan

Laura DuncanA graduate of the Restoration of Natural Systems program and a member of the program's steering committee. Laura lives in Kimberley, BC.

Fred Sampson

Chief Fred Sampsonof the Siska Nation in Lytton BC, uses the traditional knowledge of NTFPs to create a band based business, Siska Traditions.

Rick Ross

Rick RossOwner of Western Evergreens, a family business based on floral greens in operation since 1970.

Shelly Witzky

Shelley WitzkyA cultural Interpreter at the Nk'mip Desert and Heritage Centre in Osoyoos, BC.


Mike KeeferAn ethnobotanist and Manager of Research and Planning for the Ktunaxa Kinbasket Treaty Council in Cranbrook, BC and owner of Keefer Ecological Services.


Dawn MorrisonA member of the Neskonlith Indian Band working to restore Harper Lake


Ken ElliottA restoration technician with the Cowichan Tribes Environment Department


Fabian TommyA restoration technician with the Cowichan Tribes Environment Department


Dave RyderSenior Environmental Coordinator at the Elkview Coal Mine in Sparwood, BC


Alwin DyrlandOwner/operator of the Saskatoon Berry Farm in Cobble Hill, BC


Connie DyrlandOwner/operator of the Saskatoon Berry Farm in Cobble Hill, BC


Tim Brigham, Royal Roads UniversityJeff Ralph, Research AssistantJohn Dick, Content Consultant

Production Team

Peggy Faulds, Project ManagerKate Seaborne, Production ManagerJudy Somers, Audio-Visual ProductionJodi Spacek, Instructional/Technical DesignKaty Chan, Graphic DesignMarc Furney, Marc Furney Illustration

We are grateful to the Neskonlith Band for their assistance with arrangements and ongoing support for the project and to the Northern Forest Diversification Centre for the use of their materials to create the decision-making framework.

The content of this learning object was developed in 2004/05 by the University of Victoria and Royal Roads University and created as a media rich learning resource by Distance Education Services at the University of Victoria. Funding was provided by the Ministry of Advanced Education, Province of British Columbia through the BCcampus Online Development Fund. Please direct enquiries to