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Chanterelle Mushrooms on Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Tyson Ehlers, Tom Hobby

Abstract


This paper presents a synthesis of an original case study that investigated the social, economic, and ecological characteristics of the Pacific golden chanterelle (Cantharellus formosus) harvest in British Columbia, with an emphasis on northern Vancouver Island. It draws on the experience of wild mushroom harvesters and buyers, current forest mycological research, and global trade data. The wild mushroom resource contributes directly to rural economies and is part of the natural capital of the region. Wage expectations are generally low, but many people pick mushrooms for personal use and recreation, regardless of profit. Sustainability of chanterelle harvests is tied to forest management practices; the absence of any regulatory or policy framework for addressing the management requirements for chanterelles creates uncertainty about future supplies. Shorter timber harvest rotations are implicated in the loss of habitat and harvesting opportunities; however, there is reason to believe that timber and chanterelles can be managed compatibly, albeit with some tradeoffs. Available inventory information can be used to identify the best habitats that should be managed on longer rotations. Alternatively, compatible management strategies could include green-tree retention focussed on the best chanterelle habitat; commercial thinning that maintains a sufficient density of chanterelle host trees, and manipulating younger stands to enhance production at an earlier age. Global trade data indicate a slight decline in the value of the Canadian chanterelle harvest in recent years; however, the industry is relatively young and characterized by fluctuations in production and markets, and there is reason to be optimistic for the future of the industry on Vancouver Island.

Keywords


British Columbia; Cantharellus formosus; chanterelle; compatible management; non-timber forest products; Vancouver Island

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