Non timber forest products

Jamie Simpson central at
Thu Feb 6 02:04:15 EST 1997

Don Staples wrote:
> Twenty years ago we were in a project for the US Health Service where we collected stems
> from specific species of plants throughout the eastern portion of Texas.  Many were
> shrub species that would not meet the minimum length and diameter specified, so we ended
> up sending bundles of stems to meet the weight requirements.  Apparently the request had
> gone out to all states of the union.  They were looking for bio-active extracts from the
> plants.
> Out of this real basic research came Taxol (I beleave this is the correct spelling) used
> in the treatment of breast cancer and other soft tissue cancers.  There was quite a to
> do about the loss of the Pacific Yew that was used to produce this extract, I now think
> they have a synthetic version.
> You never know what your burning, or herbiciding.

And if you look deeper into the biological system we are "managing"
there are many components that we have yet to discover, let alone
understand.  Whereas taxol comes from a tree, previously thought to be a
weed species, there are an abundance of critters living in the forest,
and under it.  Some of which may hold useful and profitable
commodities.  There is great debate as to how to manage old growth
forests.  One of the unknowns is that we do not yet understand how
fragmented forests are connected at the different trophic levels.  I'd
be kicking my ass if I found out I had destroyed a part of the ecosystem
that held the cure for *insert favorite disease here*.  There are
inherent dangers in managing for short term profit alone (observe the
North American automotive industry).  While we cannot predict future
demands or discoveries, we can allow for a variety of future

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