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Non-Timber Forest Product Calculator: A Tool for Merging Conservation and Production

Photo of Screen capture of the NTFP Calculator. Gary Bentrup, U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agroforestry Center.Screen capture of the NTFP Calculator. Gary Bentrup, U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agroforestry Center.Snapshot : The new non-timber forest product calculator allows landowners to estimate the income potential of harvesting and selling non-timber forest products from their conservation planting.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Bentrup, Gary 
Research Location : Nationwide
Research Station : Washington Office (WO)
Year : 2016
Highlight ID : 1141


Riparian forest buffers offer numerous environmental benefits from protecting water quality to enhancing terrestrial and aquatic wildlife habitat. Although many landowners see the environmental benefits of riparian buffers, they are often wary of losing this profitable, arable land that they rely on for crop and/or livestock production. As a result, landowners are left with a difficult decision between conservation and production.

While traditional riparian forest buffers focus solely on conservation, multifunctional riparian forest buffers can provide opportunities for production by incorporating native fruit, nut and floral trees and shrubs. Instead of excluding production, multifunctional buffers offer alternative non-timber forest products (NTFP) that can be harvested for home use or sale, while retaining environmental benefits. Landowners are now eager to explore the economic potential of growing and harvesting NTFPs for home use and the market. Recognizing this need, the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agroforestry Center and Virginia Tech created the NTFP Calculator.

The NTFP Calculator is an Excel-based tool that allows users explore the economic potential of growing six different woody plants in a conservation planting, such as a multifunctional riparian forest buffer. These species include pawpaws, elderberries, hazelnuts, persimmons, dogwoods and willows, but additional species will be added in the future as economic data becomes available. The NTFP Calculator has default economic parameters for each NTFP based on existing market studies and interviews with growers throughout the U.S. The default values can also be easily adjusted based on local knowledge for a more accurate calculation.

The NTFP Calculator provides general estimates of income potential, and therefore landowners will still need to complete a more detailed enterprise budget to determine the economic viability of their proposed enterprise. The NTFP Calculator provides links to supplementary tools and resources for learning more about NTFPs and guides for developing an enterprise budget. The tool has already been downloaded more than 325 times since its completion in March, 2016 and is available at:

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Virginia Tech University