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Commercial Development of Salal on South Vancouver Island

Tom Hobby, Kari Dows, Sara MacKenzie

Abstract


Salal is a prolific shrub found throughout coastal British Columbia and has been used for centuries by First Nations. Salal berries were used as food, in fresh and dried form, both for subsistence and as trade goods. Although the berries are still harvested by First Nations and others, today the shrub is mainly used as floral greenery. The purpose of this extension note is to summarize the results of a case study conducted in 2005 to describe major elements of the salal industry on southern Vancouver Island, particularly those factors that have contributed to its development as a significant commercial sector, and to address issues that may affect the long-term economic viability of this important non-timber forest product. An estimated 657 726 ha of suitable salal habitat occurs within the South Island Forest District, with an estimated 414 338 ha of habitat located within 1 km of accessible roads. Estimates of the value of annual salal production within the South Island Forest District range between $6 and $10 million dollars annually and experienced salal harvesters can potentially earn competitive wages with other occupations requiring similar levels of skill and knowledge. Many opportunities exist for compatible management between salal and timber production, some of which may increase revenues and (or) reduce timber production costs to the landowner. Results of this case study—and research from other areas where the salal industry is well established—suggest that new management strategies may be required to maximize potential benefits of the industry, promote compatible management, and address issues affecting financial viability, livelihood security, and resource conservation in the salal sector.

Keywords


British Columbia; compatible management; floral greenery; non-timber forest products; salal

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