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Society and Natural Resources

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Human ecology, Forest ecology, Urban forest canopy


This article uses research about non-timber forest products (NTFP) gathering in Seattle, Washington, USA to examine how people gain access to natural resources in urban environments. Our analysis focuses on gathering in three spaces: parks, yards, and public rights of way. We present a framework for conceptualizing access, and highlight cognitive mechanisms of access associated with foragers’ internal moral judgments about harvesting. Key findings are: (1) internal moral calculations about whether it is right or wrong to harvest a particular NTFP in a particular place are an important but previously unacknowledged mechanism governing resource access; and (2) these calculations may help prevent over-harvesting of NTFPs, which are common pool resources, in urban environments where social and environmental conditions lend themselves to a de facto situation of open access. Our findings suggest that voluntary codes of conduct may be the best way to manage NTFP access in cities.


This work was authored as part of the Contributor's official duties as an Employee of the United States Government and is therefore a work of the United States Government. In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 105, no copyright protection is available for such works under U.S. Law.



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