Research Sustains Ecosystem Services

From clean drinking water to sustainably harvested forest products and the region’s outdoor tourism industry, nature provides abundant benefits to people in the southern Appalachians. Benefits also include biodiversity, the sense of place found in forested landscapes, and much more. Ecological assessment is a key tool for understanding the role of private and public lands…  More 

Webinar Series on Forests & Food Across the Globe

A new webinar series explores the value of the food and medicine forests provide. “Many Americans eat berries, nuts, and edible mushrooms from forests,” says Jim Chamberlain, USDA Forest Service researcher. Every year, hundreds of thousands of pounds of food are gathered from public lands. Chamberlain is organizing the webinar series as part of his…  More 

New Series of Science Updates on NTFPs From Trees

Trees provide food, medicine, and other things that people need. USDA Forest Service researcher Jim Chamberlain developed factsheets for eight species: Eastern black walnut (Juglans nigra) Fraser fir (Abies fraseri) Noble fir (Abies procera) Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) Pinyon pine (Pinus edulis) Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) Sugar maple (Acer saccharum) These trees provide fruit…  More 

Shifting to a Bioeconomy

Forests and trees have always been crucial to people’s food security, nutrition, and culinary cultural identity. With a steadily growing world population, one of the most significant challenges of the 21st century will be increasing food production while maintaining worldwide forest health and biodiversity. “I have come to realize that we, forest management experts, don’t…  More 

Top Ten of 2020

As 2020 comes to an end, it is a good time to gather our most-read CompassLive stories from the past year. Each one highlights the work of USDA Forest Service scientists at the Southern Research Station. We hope you enjoy reading this collection, which includes the most popular of 2020 plus a few more that…  More 

American Ginseng, in the Forest and in the Marketplace

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is a plant of great value. Tens of thousands of pounds are harvested from the wild each year. But the average harvest amount has dwindled, while price has skyrocketed. “It’s pretty unusual that the more effort put towards producing something, the less is produced,” says USDA Forest Service researcher Greg Frey.…  More 

The Forest’s Bounty

No one knows how many gallons, pounds, and tons of non-timber forest products are harvested – there are too many products, too many units of measurement, and not enough data. “If we don’t know the volume, we can’t figure out the value,” says USDA Forest Service scientist Jim Chamberlain. “Value has two pieces to it,…  More 

Foraging in the Future

Foraging can be as casual as searching for wild blackberries in a suburban backyard. At least a quarter of the U.S. population has foraged in this way. “Forests provide food, medicine, and other sundry items for subsistence and income,” says USDA Forest Service scientist Jim Chamberlain. Blackberries, blueberries, Christmas trees, firewood, fungi, grasses, greenery, mosses,…  More 

Agroforestry Strategies for Landowners

When most people think of livestock and farming, they envision rolling, open fields with cows grazing on green grass. Add trees to that picture, and you have silvopasture — an agroforestry practice that combines livestock and forest management. Chris Fields-Johnson uses agroforestry on his 300-acre loblolly pine forest in Scottsville, VA. He had planned to…  More 

Grow Your Own Ramps!

In the Appalachian Mountains, spring really starts with ramps and ramp festivals. Also known as wild leeks, ramps (Allium tricoccum) have been described as having a flavor that falls somewhere between that of garlic, onions, and scallions. While the taste is sweet, the pungent smell of ramps — and of those who’ve eaten them —…  More