Salal harvester local ecological knowledge, harvest practices and understory management on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington.
Despite growing interest in traditional and local ecological knowledge for conservation and resource management, the role of migrant resource users is largely unexplored. Challenging many assumptions about what constitutes 'local knowledge,' migrant and immigrant harvesters of non-timber forest products on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington, possess useful ecological knowledge of overstorey-understorey relationships and how forestry practices affect understorey biological and commercial production. Harvesters of salal (Gaultheria shallon), a shrub used in the multi-million dollar floral greens industry, were interviewed in Mason County, Washington, USA, in 2001-03. Interviews revealed that harvesters possess different kinds of resource management knowledge depending on whether they are experienced harvesters or more recent newcomers to the area. These differences may also correlate with differences in their harvesting practices. Understanding how resource management knowledge differs between experienced and newcomer harvesters can inform forest managers in their efforts to develop effective management and permitting policies for floral greens and other non-timber forest resources in the Pacific Northwest of the USA.