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Estimating Abundance, Distribution, and Volume of the Chaga fungus (Inonotus obliquus) within the White Mountains National Forest

Rhys Brydon-Williams: University of New Hampshire

<div><em>Inonotus obliquus</em>, commonly known as chaga, is a fungal pathogen found almost exclusively on birch trees. The sterile conk of chaga has an extensive history as a folk remedy for stomach ailments and cancer in Northern Europe and increasingly in North America. Due to its emerging economic value, chaga has become the target of harvest in the White Mountains National Forest (WMNF). Consequently, WMNF managers are concerned about the potential impacts of chaga harvest on forest health, and are interested in developing guidelines for sustainable harvest. These guidelines may provide a basis for special use permitting. However, these efforts to develop best management practices are currently constrained by a lack of knowledge about the abundance, preferred habitat, and volume of the chaga resource in the WMNF.</p> <p>The objectives of this study are to: quantify chaga abundance and preferred habitat in the WMNF; determine the incidence of chaga by tree species and other correlating variables; and from these data develop best management practices for chaga harvest in the WMNF. A survey conducted in 2017 assessed the characteristics of chaga in 109 trees carrying conks: results indicated that 48.5% of white and yellow birch, 2% of black birch, and 1% of sugar maple trees surveyed had chaga present on their stems. We will also present results about the incidence of chaga in relation to correlating variables such as DBH, Live Crown Ratio, and stand species composition.</div>