Sustainable Forest Harvest project - monitoring NTFP harvests
The Sustainable Forest Harvest project was developed in response to direct recommendations agreed by consensus among a wide range of interest groups during a Scotland-wide Wild Harvests seminar in May 2006. At the seminar researchers, harvesters and species specialists collectively identified a strong need for information about sustainable harvesting levels and practice around NTFPs in Scotland.
More recently, surveys suggested that over 200 non-timber forest products (NTFPs), derived from 173 vascular plant and fungal species, are currently being collected regularly in Scotland and that gathering by less experienced collectors is on the increase. At the same time we know there is much good practice, a strong concern amongst existing gatherers to ensure that harvesting is sustainable, and much historical precedent showing that use and value of forest products results in better management of habitats and species.
The Sustainable Forest Harvest project developed methods for monitoring the impacts of wild harvests. It focused on three areas: fungi, sphagnum moss and lungwort (a lichen, Lobaria pulmonaria). There were very different reasons for choosing each of these:
- Fungi had become much more widely harvested in recent years but we knew very little about what is harvested or how much. There was also great speculation, but little knowledge, about the potential impact of the harvesting practice of increased numbers of people from the more fungi-loving cultures of Eastern Europe.
- Sphagnum moss was listed in European legislation as requiring monitoring and was therefore a controversial harvest.
- Lungwort is not currently harvested in great quantities in Scotland, but as populations on mainland Europe decline and become protected, demand for homeopathic medicine is turning to other potential sources.
The project was run by specialist NTFP researcher Dr Alison Dyke.
Click here to download a presentation about the Sustainable Forest Harvest project's findings, made by Alison Dyke at the Wild Harvests of Scotland conference in April 2009 (PDF file 597KB)