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Gathering plants and fungi along the urban-rural gradient: Uncovering differences in the attitudes and practices among urban, suburban, and rural landowners

Short Gianotti, Anne G., Hurley, Patrick T.
Land use policy 2016 v.57 pp. 555-563
attitudes and opinions, cities, ecosystem services, fungi, land use, landowners, news media, nontimber forest products, plants (botany), public lands, rural areas, surveys, urban areas, Massachusetts
Gathering non-timber forest products (NTFPs) in cities and rural areas has received growing attention in research and news media. Yet little is known about the frequency of these activities and how attitudes about and the practice of gathering differ across urban, suburban, and rural areas. We report on findings from a mail survey of landowners across two urban-rural gradients in central and eastern Massachusetts, USA. The survey queried (a) attitudes towards gathering and a variety of other environmental benefits, (b) the practice of gathering, and (c) where gatherers harvest species. Survey responses reveal that gathering is not a controversial use of land and is a relatively widespread activity across urban, suburban, and rural areas. Further, the results show that gathering occurs on a mix of private and public lands and that there are important differences in the practice of gathering among individuals living in urban, suburban, and rural areas. Our findings have implications for understanding the social and ecological dynamics of gathering and suggest that more research on gathering and other natural resource management issues is needed, particularly in (sub)urban areas.