Wild Harvests Sector Support project
Background & aims of the project
The Wild Harvests Sector Support project (WHSS) was a continuation of Reforesting Scotland's work over the years to encourage sustainable livelihoods from the forests and the wild products of Scotland. During the Wild Harvests seminar in Beauly in 2006 participants had identified a number of factors that could help wild harvests businesses; including more communication between businesses; consultation and representation about wider developments; and raising market awareness of Scotland's wild products. In early 2007, Reforesting Scotland's NTFP Sector Research and Development project consulted businesses in more depth about ideas for a trade body, a woodland products labelling scheme, and internet-based business support.
Part of the aim of the WHSS project was to link businesses to developments which are relevant to them. One example is the Scottish Working Woods label, launched in June 2007. This label distinguishes and guarantees woodland products made in Scotland, by businesses based in Scotland, using materials harvested from Scottish trees and woodlands. It has the potential to give a significant market advantage to businesses which are going to the (also significant) extra effort and expense of sourcing their raw materials from Scottish woods, instead of taking advantage of cheap materials from abroad. A lot of wild harvests businesses gather their materials from woodlands - but the light administrative footprint of the label means that businesses can only access it via a trade association. When the WHSS project started there was no trade association covering non-timber woodland products, so the label could not be used by businesses using non-timber products; the Scottish Wild Harvests Association now provides a way of filling that gap.
The WHSS project also provided an opportunity to inform businesses about the legalities and conservation implications of wild harvesting, through links with Reforesting Scotland's Sustainable Forest Harvest project. Such knowledge is vital for ensuring long-term sustainability - something which is important in terms of image and marketing, but is also a fundamental part of what motivates many of the people working in this sector, and of Reforesting Scotland's reasons for being involved with it.
Project outputs & activities
Meetings for businesses, November 2008
The first major project activity was to hold a pair of meetings in November 2008, one in the north and one in the south of the country, which brought together people from the diverse range of businesses involved - harvesters; buyers; makers of fine foods and wines; craftspeople; course providers; landowners, land managers; and more. As with previous seminars, people made useful connections and expressed enthusiasm for more opportunities to meet and cooperate in the future.
- As a result of these meetings, a steering group formed to take forward plans for a Scottish Wild Harvests trade association.
- There was also a call for more regional networking, to include everyone interested in wild harvests, rather than just businesses. We took a step towards this by co-organising a regional Wild Harvests event for the Scottish Borders in February 2009.
- Click here to download a report of the November 2008 Wild Harvests meetings (PDF file 381KB).
Wild Harvests of Scotland events, April 2009 - formation of the Scottish Wild Harvests Association
The next step in bringing a trade association in to being was the April 2009 Wild Harvests of Scotland events, co-organised by Reforesting Scotland and Forestry Commission Scotland.
The Scottish Wild Harvests Association was formed during the course of these events.
Launch of the Scottish Wild Harvests Association, Big Tent Festival, July 2009
The Scottish Wild Harvests Association was formally launched at the Big Tent Festival, in Falkland, Fife, in July 2009. Reforesting Scotland helped to facilitate the launch, and also to organise other wild harvests displays in the Big Tent's new "Wild about Wood" zone.
The Association offers a collective presence for Wild Harvests businesses, with the aim of aiding access to funding, training and marketing opportunities, and giving the sector a voice in the face of policy developments and pressures such as concerns about overharvesting. Full membership is available to businesses and organisations working with wild materials harvested from Scotland; associate membership is open to all organisations and individuals who have an interest in wild harvesting in Scotland and who support the Association's aims.
Press interest following the Wild Harvests of Scotland events
Following the April 2009 Wild Harvests of Scotland events it became that Wild Harvests were a very topical concern. Press coverage included:
- an article in the Guardian newspaper
- an article in the Big Issue in Scotland
- an appearance by Alison Dyke (of Reforesting Scotland's Sustainable Forest Harvest project) on a New Zealand radio station
- an interview with Alison Dyke and Dick Peebles (of Fresh Direct) on BBC Radio 4's You&Yours programme
- an article in Flybe in-flight magazine
- an article in the National NTFP Newsletter for Canada (no.2, July 2009), produced by the Centre for Non-Timber Resources, Royal Roads University
More information about Wild Harvests in Scotland and beyond can be found on the ForestHarvest website.
This project was developed and run by Emma Chapman ( ) for Reforesting Scotland.