Non-Timber Forest Products

birch bark

University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s natural resources experts conduct field research and provide information and consultation for people who harvest and use non-timber forest products.

non-timber forest products: Balsam wreathe, birchbark moose, maple syrup, bowl, twig basket, canned fiddleheads, spruce beer, tea, hazelnut crunch snack

What are Non-Timber Forest Products?

  • Fiber: brown/black ash, spruce roots, bark
  • Food: berries, fiddleheadsmaple syrup, mushrooms, nuts, wild leeks (ramps)
  • Herbs and medicinals: compounds from pine, needles and birch bark, goldthread
  • Maine Woods Icons: balsam fir pillows, weather sticks
  • Ornamentals: balsam fir and pine boughs, cedar, birch bark, branches, cones
  • Resin: spruce gum, balsam fir
  • Seeds: wildflowers, conifer

Potential for the State of Maine

  • enhancing small business development in rural forested areas
  • helping farmers and other woodlot owners supplement incomes between timber harvests
  • assisting farmers and other woodlot owners to pay their taxes and keep family forests as forests
  • engaging youth in the forests of Maine

Non-timber forest products are an important part of Maine’s heritage and culture and have a current estimated value of $55 million/year.


wild leeks
Wild leeks: mature plants at left, with volunteer seedlings in foreground and right. Photo by David Fuller.

Maine Wild Leek Project

Become a citizen scientist and help research wild leeks (also known as ramps) in Maine!

The Maine Wild Leek Project is a collaborative project between the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the Maine Natural Areas Program. The purpose of the project is to educate about wild leeks and to document the distribution of wild leeks in Maine as well as the relative size of given populations. This documentation will help the Maine Natural Areas Program expand their knowledge of wild leeks and improve opportunities for its conservation. Additionally, participants will get more information from UMaine Cooperative Extension on wild leeks in months to come, including the latest research efforts on the effects of harvesting and a fact sheet on establishing your own wild leek patch.

Please, consider participating in the Maine Wild Leek Project to help us better understand and conserve this species. Start by reading more about wild leeks in the April 2016 issue of Maine Home Garden News, then use our online form to report confidential information about any wild leeks you find. Please remember to respect landowner’s property: observe posted land and ask for permission to pass on un-posted land.

Thank you!

Ongoing research for non-timber forest products is vital to determine sustainable harvest levels and practices to ensure they maintain their cultural and economic importance for generations to come. Below are several non-timber forest products research projects currently underway at UMaine Extension:

  • Maine Wild Leek Project (see above for details)
  • Effects of Harvesting Fiddleheads from Ostrich Ferns
  • Effects of Cook Method and Time on the Safety and Quality of Maine Fiddleheads

This work is/was supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, RREA project 228285.