birch bark

Non-Timber Forest Products

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.

4-H-made balsam fir pillow, 2008; ca. 1920 balsam fir pillow; birch bark creations; and weather sticks, used in northern Maine lumber camps in the 1800s.
Clockwise, starting at upper left: 4-H-made balsam fir pillow, 2008; balsam fir pillow ca. 1920; birch bark creations; and weather sticks, used in northern Maine lumber camps in the 1800s.

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

Small business, the Maine woods, and non-timber forest products — a rich tradition!

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.


Money Can Grow On Trees

Connecting youth and the spirit of entrepreneurship with the Maine woods through history, science, sustainable harvest, and creativity.

With support from Franklin Savings Bank and Skowhegan Savings.

Panel 2 of Money Can Grow on Trees display: collage of photos showing 4-H'ers making balsam swags

Panel 3 of Money Can Grow on Trees display: Program benefits - Youth learn business skills: Planning and organizing; Financial record-keeping; Problem solving; Customer service and communication skills. Youth learn about and gain an appreciation for the Maine woods: Science of sustainable forest management; Maine woods history; Alternate uses of timber species; Keeping forests as forest; Learn how to sustainably harvest forest products.