Vermont's Non-Timber Forest Products
Across the world people rely on the natural environment around them for many things: food, medicine, crafts, shelter, etc. Although in the Western world we are quickly forgetting the importance of the natural resources that nature provides us with, many people still rely on nature for their basic necessities. Non-timber forest products are gathered all over the world, both to serve the individual, and to sell on a larger market. People from all walks of life gather NTFPs, from those just picking some berries on a hike for a snack to people who rely almost solely on these products for their food, medicine, or livelihood.
Much can be learned from these gatherers, because it is a great way to get closer to nature. They can teach us about sustainability and the preservation of the plants they work with. Even when gatherers use NTFPs to supply or supplement their income, thay are usually acutely aware of how much they can gather before they destroy a certain plant or even ecosystem. Thus, they are willing to sacrifice money in order to remain responsible stewards of the land. They know they have to treat nature well if they want to get the greatest benefits from it.
NTFPs are important for both their economic and cultural values. Because NTFPs are taken from nature itself, gathering can prove to be a great way to keep costs at bay because there is no need to pay the extra costs that come with getting the same product from a store. Also, gathering has important cultural value because it allows us to get back to our roots and live a simpler lifestyle, something people have largely forgotten in America.
Especially in rural areas where there is not so much commercial and market activity, NTFPs play an important role. People may use NTFPs because there is no other way for them to get comparable products, or it is the easiest and most cost-effective way (Emery). Much much of the knowledge of gathering has been lost. Prepackaged consumer goods have severed our direct connection to natural products; people no longer need these skills. The difference in knowledge from one generation to the next is alarming in how much has been lost because of the change in lifestyle. It is also increasingly difficult to find areas in which to gather (Emery). Higher population density brought different concepts of private property?people do not want strangers wandering through their woods, and because so much land is private property nowadays, it is hard to find accessible areas.
But Vermont has preserved some of the idea of the commons, where people recognize the value of common land left in its natural state for everyone. Vermonters carry with them unique knowledge of the natural world and humanity's place within it. This is evident in how they have preserved the landscape and forests of the state, making it a beautiful and special place to live. The scope of traditional knowledge is weakening, but is still...