The “Resource management” strand of the StarTree project was all about forestry and silviculture for non-wood forest products (NWFPs).
Researchers reviewed the existing state of the art in silvicultural guidelines, forestry planning models and decision support tools. Then, in an industry which usually focuses almost exclusively on timber, they looked at ways to enhance production of NWFPs. They worked closely with their regional stakeholders to choose what to study, and to design Resource Management In-Depth Case Studies.
They looked at NWFPs which were already important crops, including bay leaves, lime flowers, chestnuts, cherries, cork, pine dew honey, pine nuts, sorbus fruits, boletes, blaeberries and cowberries. The products chosen often reflected the countries in which the research organisations were based, so most of the work was done in Spain, Portugal, Catalonia, Finland, Turkey and Germany.
Timber and berries
“StarTree’s revised guidelines for bilberry and cowberry detail how to optimise stand management for the joint production of timber and berries.” This raises exciting possibilities for managing woodland in Scotland for production of berries as well as timber. The StarTree research was done in Finland, so further trials would be needed to confirm whether the recommendations work for Scotland as well.
Timber and mushrooms
The StarTree Reader chapter “Promoting wild mushroom yields by forest management” details findings from Finland and Spain, where researchers looked at the effects of different forestry thinning regimes on yields of mycorrhizal edible mushrooms. Both studies found that “the production of timber and wild mushrooms are not competing with each other”. This is another very promising result which may also hold good in Scotland.
Cork and pine nuts
Cork production gives a view into a long-established and intricately managed and regulated NWFP. (See Cork, nuts and resin: Portugal’s long view of non-wood forest products‘, in Reforesting Scotland Journal issue 49.) The StarTree snapshot on Managing cork oak shows how detailed the managment calculations can be in an established NWFP production system.
By contrast, the work on domesticating Mediterranean native pine nut crops has only recently begun, as described in another StarTree snapshot, titled “Pine nuts, gourmet food: from woodlands… or from orchards?“. It was fascinating to visit a stand of conifers and discover that techniques such as grafting were being used, reminiscent of techniques used for managing apple trees in Scotland.
The distinction between NWFPs (sometimes called “wild forest products”) and cultivation e.g. in orchards is blurred. There is a tendency for harvested species to become managed and then eventually cultivated, a dynamic which has been commented on many times during StarTree. Many different opinions have emerged on what should, or should not, be included within NWFP research.
Appropriately, the first keynote speech during the StarTree final conference was: “Wild forest products, between domestication and rewilding“, by Freerk Wiersum. The second keynote speech, by Paul Vantomme, underlined this issue by lamenting the lack of agreement among researchers and policy makers on a definition of what should be included in a study of NWFPs (or even any agreement on which term to use).
The first StarTree field trip gave a striking example of a local native product – the truffle, in Catalonia – undergoing rapid development towards cultivation.
More on Resource Management
- Some fascinating presentations and posters on resource management topics are available to download from the StarTree Final Conference page on the StarTree website
- The StarTree project website has a page dedicated to the official reports on Resource Management produced by the StarTree project.
- In Scotland, the questionnaire sent to professional foresters contributed towards report D2.1, the State of the art review of silviculture, models and decision support tools for MPT and NWFP – many thanks to all who responded!
- StarTree snapshot: silvicultural guidelines on managing cherry tree stands for production of both cherries and veneer timber
- StarTree Reader chapter, ‘Food from trees: managing forests to promote edible tree fruits’
- StarTree snapshot: New decision support tools for wild forest product management
- Databases of forest decision support systems and forestry models