Speaking at the 8th North American Forest Ecology Workshop, held in Roanoke, Va., James Chamberlain, Ph.D., research forest products technologist at the National Agroforestry Center of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, presented research about wild-crafted American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) from an unpublished report funded by the American Herbal Products Association Foundation for Education & Research on Botanicals (AHPA-ERB Foundation).
With support from the AHPA-ERB Foundation, Virginia Tech and the Forest Service, Chamberlain's presentation, "Relationships between Harvest of American Ginseng and Hardwood Timber Production," examined the relationship between the reported harvest of American ginseng and hardwood timber in the forests of the eastern United States.
"American ginseng has been collected from eastern hardwood forests and has added significantly to the economy of rural America for hundreds of years," Chamberlain said. "The harvest of ginseng and timber are closely related; often loggers were digging ginseng, as well. We found that on average, American ginseng provided close to $25 million to the economies of the rural eastern United States every year from 2000 through 2007."
The study found no relationship between the harvest of ginseng and the amount of public forest lands in counties from which it was collected. "We did find a strong relationship between forests with large trees and ginseng harvest; as forests mature and produce larger trees, ginseng harvest increased," Chamberlain said.
"This study demonstrates the importance of having good data on medicinal forest products and providing transparency to these important forest natural resources. Through these and future efforts, the industry, academia, and the government can work together to help improve the sustainability of the plants that are critical to the herbal medicine industry," he added.
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has compiled data on ginseng harvests for more than 25 years," noted Michael McGuffin, American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) president and an AHPA-ERB Foundation board member. "The foundation believes that it is essential to the understanding of the commerce of wild-harvested plants to have specific data about that level of commerce, in this case, American ginseng. This is especially important when we recognize the importance of the wild-harvesting of medicinal plants in rural areas with high unemployment."
An article co-authored by Chamberlain that includes some of the findings from the AHPA-ERB Foundation report has been submitted to a peer-reviewed journal for publication.
The North American Forest Ecology Workshop allows forest ecologists from Canada, Mexico and the United States to gather and exchange current research and management approaches. The conference theme, "Forest Ecology in a Managed Landscape," reflects some of the challenges and opportunities faced by forest ecologists working in the southeastern United States—a region dominated by short-rotation pine plantations.
About the American Herbal Products Association
The American Herbal Products Association is the national trade association for and the voice of the herbal products industry. AHPA is comprised of domestic and foreign companies doing business as growers, processors, manufacturers, and marketers of herbs and botanical and herbal products, including foods, dietary supplements, cosmetics, and non-prescription drugs. Founded in 1982, AHPA's mission is to promote the responsible commerce of herbal products. www.ahpa.org.
About the AHPA-ERB Foundation
The American Herbal Products Association Foundation for Education & Research on Botanicals (AHPA-ERB Foundation) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) educational foundation founded by AHPA for the purpose of promoting education and research on medicinal, therapeutic, and health-promoting herbs. Information on completed and current projects is available online at www.AHPAFoundation.org.