Peck, J.E. & P.S. Muir. 2007. Conservation management of the mixed species nontimber forest product of “moss”—Are they harvesting what we think they’re harvesting? Biodiversity and Conservation 16(7):2031-2043.
Management to preserve biodiversity while allowing resource extraction must be tailored to the taxa impacted by harvest. Yet millions of kilograms of mosses, liverworts, some lichens and an occasional vascular plant are harvested from the forests of the Pacific Northwest of North America each year without an adequate understanding of which species are impacted by harvest. Research has focused on epiphytic bryophytes as the primary target of harvest, but the habitats and substrates actually impacted by harvest and the species sold as ‘moss’ have never been determined. To determine if the species being researched are the same as those that are actually sold, we compared the relative abundance and species composition of 17 commercially sold bags of moss with those from 33 field sites in the Oregon Coast and Cascade Ranges on which moss harvest research had previously been conducted. Most species found in the purchased bags had been previously reported from the field studies of what were thought to be commercially harvestable species, including all of the most frequently harvested taxa. However, several new species were found to be commercially harvested and more log and valley hardwood species were found than were previously believed to be harvested. Proper management will require harvest impact studies for the species found in these additional habitats. All nontimber forest products involving mixtures of various species should be periodically surveyed at the point of sale to determine which species are actually being harvested.
PNW Moss Lit