Moss Marketing

Mike H mhagen at
Sat Apr 12 11:20:07 EST 2003

Daniel B. Wheeler wrote:
> By Diana K. Colvin, in Homes and Gardens of the Northwest, in The
> Oregonian, April 10, 2003
> 	Some people see more than shades of green when they look at moss.
> 	They see money.
> 	In Northwest forests, moss harvesting has grown into a
> multi-millioon-dollar annual business. The gatherer usually doesn't
> reap the riches; that's the reward of themiddleman who sells the
> harvested moss ot the floral trade. Tons of moss are removed from
> public lands every year with little or no regulation.
> 	In the past decade or two, public land managers have begun to examine
> harvesting. They have the authority to write permits for it but find
> they lack basic information, such as how much moss there is, how fast
> it regrows and how fast it's being removed, says Patricia Muir, a
> professor of botany and plant pathology at Oregon State University,
> who's helping to fill the information gap. Managers have no
> enforcement capability and know that a significant amount of moss is
> harvested without permits. She says one Oregon district's permitted
> harvest of fresh moss was 85,000 pounds in a year.
> 	"It almost doesn't matter if anybody allows it, because it goes on,"
> Muir says. The dried moss is used as mulch around potted plants.
> 	Muir and ecologist Jeri Peck began looking at the situation in 1997
> with funding from the Bureau of Land Management. Their research is
> focused on Oregon forests.
> 	They found varied moss "inventories," with the regrowth rates
> remarkably slow, Muir says. They felt they started looking decades too
> late, because so many areas already had been denuded.
> 	"You can see it in forest areas near roads and along streamsides. If
> you stop your car, you'll see the areas have been stripped," Muir
> says.
> 	Knowing that moss regrows so slowly, a number of federal agencies and
> timber companies refuse to issue harvest permits, Muir says.
> Enforcement issues also arise: as with wild-mushroom hunters, there
> have been turf wars over territory, she says.
> 	"There is this whole culture of harvesters," she says, ranging from
> minimally paid illegal immigrants who work for a boss to independent
> operators to mom-and-pop outfits.
> 	Some obtain permits; many don't.
> 	Some harvesters leave bits for regrowth, while others take it all,
> stripping moss from trees, shrubs, rotting logs and even the forest
> floor.
> 	Muir is gathering information on international moss trading with a
> grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Servie. The service is
> considering whether any mosses should be monitored by CITES, the
> Convention on International Trade in Endangerd Species, known for
> drawing attention to Ivory harvests.
> 	Other Northwest forest products harvested as cash crops include
> salal, sword fern and cascara.
> 	"Our objective is not to shut down moss harvest but to make it
> sustainable," Muir says.
> Posted as a courtesy by
> Daniel B. Wheeler

Most of these greens go to the floral industry. A surprisingly large 
part of it to Europe.  It's a sizable underground economy and would be 
just about impossible to stop, if anyone wanted to.

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