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Harvested species

Nontimber

Nontimber forest products such as Ginseng and Ramps are widely harvested in the Appalachian region, and hunting and fishing are among the most important outdoor recreational activities. All of these practices have high cultural and economic value, and their sustainability depends on the capacity of rural and forest landscapes to support them. While landscape capacity meets societal demand for these resources in many areas, they may be overexploited in areas where harvesting activities are poorly regulated, and climate change effects may exacerbate declines. This may be especially true for nontimber forest plants, and these tend to be the least-studied among harvested species. Stream degradation from multiple causes, and toxic dissolved solids in watersheds with surface mines in particular, are associated with loss of fishing opportunities and represent a strong incentive for stream restoration.

Risk factors: Overexploitation, stream degradation, surface mining, climate change.

Timber

The sustainable production of wood—from upland hardwood forests in particular—is a key economic activity across the Appalachian region, supporting rural livelihoods and supplying important products at regional, national, and even global levels. Timber markets also create an incentive to keep land forested, and working forests can supply many additional ecosystem services such as clean water, nontimber forest products, carbon storage, and wildlife habitat. Standing timber stocks and production have remained fairly stable in recent decades, but declines may be experienced over the long term. Urbanization and surface mining are expected to reduce the land area available to support working forests, while detrimental effects of invasive species, climate change, and wildland fire on high-value species may have more moderate long-term influences on forest productivity.

Risk factors: Climate change, urbanization, invasive species, forest pathogens, surface mining.

References

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Chamberlain, J. L., S. Prisley, and M. McGuffin. 2013. Understanding the relationships between American ginseng harvest and hardwood forests inventory and timber harvest to improve co-management of the forests of eastern United States. Journal of Sustainable Forestry 32(6): 605-624.

Cordell, H. K., and J. L. Chamberlain. 2004. Recreation and nontimber forest products, Chapter 23, 253-287. In H. M. Rauscher and K. Johnsen, editors, Southern Forest Science: Past, Present, and Future. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-75. USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station: 394 pp.

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Hitt, N. P., and D. B. Chambers. 2014. Temporal changes in taxonomic and functional diversity of fish assemblages downstream from mountaintop mining. Freshwater Science 33(3): 915-926.

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Jackson, L. E., B. Rashleigh, and M. E. McDonald. 2012. Economic value of stream degradation across the central Appalachians. Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy 42(3): 188-197.

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Souther, S., and J. B. McGraw. 2014. Synergistic effects of climate change and harvest on extinction risk of American ginseng. Ecological Applications 24(6): 1463-1477.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service. 2012. Future of America's Forests and Rangelands: Forest Service 2010 Resources Planning Act Assessment. Gen. Tech. Rep. WO-87. USDA Forest Service: 198 pp.

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Zipper, C., J. Burger, J. McGrath, and B. Amichev. 2007. Carbon accumulation potentials of post-SMCRA coal-mined lands, 962-980. In Proceedings of a Joint Conference of the American Society of Mining and Reclamation 24th Annual National Conference, June 2-7, 2007, Gillette, Wyoming.

Zipper, C., J. Burger, J. Skousen, P. Angel, C. Barton, V. Davis, and J. Franklin. 2011. Restoring forests and associated ecosystem services on Appalachian coal surface mines. Environmental Management 47(5): 751-765.

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