This article focuses on the potential role of non-wood forest products (NWFPs) which are so far largely neglected within forest-related bioeconomy research and policy. From an innovation system perspective, we look at the barriers for NWFPs development and propose how they can be supported. We analyse 20 innovation cases in Europe, based on the analysis of documents and semi-structured interviews with experts involved in the cases. Results show that there is no “one” innovation system supporting NWFPs, but support is given rather erratically through certain programmes from various sectoral or regional innovation systems (forestry, agriculture, nature conservation or rural or regional development). There is a pronounced neglection of the institutional system towards NWFPs, resulting in a lack of statistics, research, education and training programmes and focused support structures. However, our results show rich potential of NWFPs in the forest bioeconomy for private forest owners and producers. These activities can range from a collection of NWFPs for subsistence to collectively organized production relevant to rural areas. Most of these are product innovations, some are service or social innovations, while some combine different innovation types. From some successful examples we derive suggestions for how to improve innovation support structures.
*This paper is written by researchers from EFI Forest Policy Research Network
Weiss, G.; Ludvig, A.; Živojinović, I. Embracing the Non-Wood Forest Products Potential for Bioeconomy—Analysis of Innovation Cases across Europe. Land 2023, 12, 305. https://doi.org/10.3390/land12020305