Non-wood forest products in Europe


The forest-based sector has mainly developed around wood-based products. This is due to the significant relative economic importance of wood and the well-developed and competitive value chains based on wood as a raw material (e.g. wood products, pulp and paper, bioenergy). However, there is increasing evidence that non-wood forest products (NWFPs) constitute an important and underrated segment of forest goods and services.

According to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, more than 150 NWFPs are of importance within international trade. The 2015 report on the State of Europe’s Forests estimated that the total value of NWFPs in the FOREST EUROPE region reached €2.28 billion, of which 73% was generated by plant products. In addition, there are significant differences in the access, utilization and economic importance of NWFPs in Europe.

The reasons for these differences are discussed in a new publication – based presents the results of the EU FP7 project “Multipurpose trees and non-wood forest products: a challenge and opportunity (StarTree). – which follows the complete value chain from primary production to marketing, and the accompanying institutional frameworks.

The publication goes into further depth: giving new insights into NWFPs in Europe; presenting new findings on markets in Europe; sketching out the needs for a new policy framework that addresses both EU and national specifications; and presenting examples of innovation in the sector.

It is important to state that NWFPs cover both the dimension of natural resources and materials, but are also strongly connected to the provision of ecosystem services, conservation issues, traditional knowledge, cultural values, and the complex of drivers in the context of rural development. These aspects have to be recognized when discussing stronger marketing and commercialization of NWFPs and the related trade-offs.

Why is this important? In a bioeconomy based on natural resources, there is a need to more fully understand the complete spectrum of resources available, to identify potentials and niches of these resources, to clarify use rights, and also trade-offs and synergies between forest and other land-use forms. The Europe 2020 Strategy calls for ‘smart, sustainable and inclusive economic growth’. NWFPs can contribute substantially to this objective.

This publication presents the results of the EU FP7 project “Multipurpose trees and non-wood forest products: a challenge and opportunity (StarTree)”. This project received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement No. 311919.

 

The full publication is available as a pdf here

 

Full reference: Wolfslehner, B., Prokofieva, I. and Mavsar, R. (editors). 2019. Non-wood forest products in Europe: Seeing the forest around the trees. What Science Can Tell Us 10. European Forest Institute.

 

More information: Bernhard Wolfslehner, firstname.lastname@efi.int

 

 

Photo: Ruta Saulyte / Fotolia