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Forest Wildcrafting

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Specialty Forest Products

Windbreaks, streamside (riparian) buffer strips, living snowfences and other conservation plantings can greatly improve the quality of your land and your life. Conservation plantings provide wildlife habitat; protect soil from wind or water erosion; improve water quality by filtering sediment; and shelter homes, crops and livestock from harsh winds and blowing dust and snow.

With tight margins, you might be reluctant to take crop land out of production for conservation purposes. But what if your conservation planting produced commercially valuable, salable products? What if you could turn your conservation planting into another profit center on your farm or acreage?

With proper species selection, however, taking land out of crop production for a conservation planting doesn't have to mean taking a reduction in profits. There are many species of trees and shrubs that enhance the environment and produce commercially valuable specialty forest products. Some specialty forest product production operations may require a considerable start-up investment, while others may be implemented with minimal expense. To determine possible investment requirements and potential earnings, see our Specialty Forest Product Financial Calculator. Remember that specialty forest products have niche markets, so careful planning is required for their marketing.

Specialty forest products generally fall into four categories:
1) medicinals and botanicals,
2) woody-based food products,
3) woody florals
4) handicrafts and specialty woods.

Posted with permission from the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), the national outreach arm of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, USDA. For more information about SAN or sustainable agriculture, see