The objectives of this Action will be achieved through four research tasks and one dissemination task. Each task comprises several subtasks, intending to cover all the objectives established. Action tasks will be carried out as a set of well-defined activities within a scheduled time frame. This scientific programme intends to be flexible enough to permit the inclusion, at the implementation stage, of inter-disciplinary perspectives and activities not foreseen during the preparation of the proposal. Therefore the framework of this Action is open and flexible.
Task 1: Identification and ecology of existing NWFPs in Europe
Subtask 1.1: Identifying and describing existing NWFPs
This subtask will identify and describe NWFPs in Europe. Taking into account that there are NWFPs experts within the Action from many European countries a list of commercial NWFPs existing in Europe will be created. This list will also categorise wild and cultivated NWFPs in different agro-ecological zones. Non-commercial NWFPs with identified potential to be marketed will be also included. Afterwards, all major information from the identified NWFPs will be gathered taking into account the database design proposed (subtask 1.3). Existence of innovative NWFPs uses will be investigated and highlighted.
Subtask 1.2: Reviewing NWFP ecology
This subtask will review what is known about the ecology of the identified NWFPs. Such work will be able to highlight knowledge gaps. Eco-physiological aspects of NWFPs productions should be the basis for future physiological based NWFP modelling. Another very important topic to be addressed is the potential threats or changes that might be expected for each NWFP in relation to climate change across Europe.
Subtask 1.3: Establishing a database of NWFPs produced in Europe
This subtask will design and populate a database of NWFPs produced in Europe which ultimately will be available to the public using the Action website. During the first year a protocol will be design to guide the collection of NWFP information. Each NWFP included in the database must be described according to the agreed design and the related literature should also be included in the database as well as links to existing websites with information about the respective NWFP. This subtask will be coordinated with other international organizations with experience in this field (e. g. FAO and EFI) in order to avoid overlapping. A prototype of this database is already available in the Action’s website.
Task 2: Modelling NWFPs in Europe:
Subtask 2.1: Reviewing NWFPs data and models
This subtask will compile and review existing data and models from European NWFPs. A smaller list of NWFPs is expected when compared with the one produced in Subtask 1.1, as there is known lack of data and models for many commercial European NWFPs. Such information shall be then organised in order to be easily searchable and available as well as integrated in the database of NWFPs produced in Subtask 1.3.
Subtask 2.2: Reviewing NWFP modelling methodology
Due to the high diversity within NWFPs it is challenging to choose appropriate modelling methodologies. In this subtask focus should be given on proposing: (i) protocols for data acquisition and surveying strategies, including extensions to incorporate NWFPs in National Forest Inventories (NFI); (ii) specific methodologies for modelling NWFP production.
Subtask 2.3: Identifying data and model needs
This subtask will identify data and model gaps for European NWFPs. This work will be not just a consequence from subtasks 2.1 and 2.2 but also will need to take into account current NWFP management (subtasks 3.1 and 3.2) and what is missing to achieve a sustainable management for non-wood forest products (NWFPs) in Europe. Present subtask will try to promote cooperation within the network members identifying innovative projects, pushing for a collaborative research projects.
Task 3: Identify management models used for NWFP production within Europe
Subtask 3.1: Reviewing current NWFPs management
This subtask will address how NWFPs are currently being managed in Europe. This work shall highlight what expertise or models are being used to support the management of such management decisions. In addition, it also will highlight which are the important NWFPs without a proper management in Europe.
Subtask 3.2: Towards a multifunctional management: managing NWFPs with other products
This subtask will address how the production of NWFPs can be combined with wood production and/or other productions. Ensuring a sustainable forest production implies a forest management to optimise the joint production of wood and/or other products and NWFP. Particular attention should be given to trade-offs from a combined production. Environmental conditions (including climate change and emerging biotic and abiotic threats) shall be taken into account having in mind this multi- production approach. The analysis will allow identifying successful combinations of NWFPs ecosystem services within a particular socio-economic situation. This is a step towards the realisation of the ecosystem services approach.
Subtask 3.3: Guidelines for NWFPs management
Based on the expected results of the task 2 and subtasks 3.1 and 3.2, this subtask will attempt to compile and develop standardized silvicultural and management instructions enhancing NWFP productions as well complementary yield of wood and non-wood forest products. Existing management concepts (e.g. single tree oriented planting systems, age class systems, close to nature management systems) will be screened for their applicability for a combined production of NWFP and wood. Such work will imply the existence of solid research information in terms of modelling and economics and therefore it is expected to create these guidelines only for a limited number of European NWFPs.
Task 4: Economics, marketing and governance of NWFPs
Subtask 4.1: Reviewing NWFPs economics and marketing
The NWFP market environment will be analysed in selected national and regional case studies with regard to the economic nature of the product (i.e., private, club, common or public goods; product’s structural aspects of managing excludability and rivalry via product design), involved supply chain actors (special reference to forest managers), added value creation, employment effects and distribution; co-benefits and costs (market and non-market) associated to the NWFPs value chain, the general market structure (i.e. the level of concentration and horizontal and vertical integration), transaction costs, and the main elements of marketing strategies (e.g., market segmentation and consumer behaviour, product development, pricing and contracting, distribution and networks, product and enterprise communication).
Subtask 4.2: Reviewing NWFPs tenure and governance
The governance structures will be explored in different European countries by analysing the role of public policies (regulations and support services, public procurement policies, innovation and rural development policies) and institutional actors (public administration, associations, and other formal and informal networks). A comparative analysis of the governance structures and its performance will be prepared for demand driven (e.g., cork, foliage, berries) and supply pushed products (specialized products sold locally and complementary products). Policy recommendations will be derived for different national backgrounds and on the European level.
Task 5: Dissemination
Dissemination is a crucial aspect to ensure that there will be knowledge transfer from this Action to European NWFP stakeholders and end users. Apart from the instruments that COST makes available that facilitate dissemination, which will be used in this Action, the short term scientific missions and the trainings schools, there are also other ways to disseminate, according with the following subtasks:
Subtask 5.1: Action website and social media
The dissemination of this Action will use its website, nwfps.eu, as the major platform to reach its participants, stakeholders and general public. Therefore, the website will be operational from the inception of the Action. All the elements produced within the Action – discussion papers, reports, databases – will be made available on the website. This website has a section with news which is a blog to announce all the events and activities to be organised within the Action. A twitter account and a Facebook page, already created and to be expanded when the Action will entry into force, will enlarge the European NWFPs stakeholders audience improving the dissemination to be carried out by the Action.
Subtask 5.2: Establishing a database of NWFPs stakeholders
This subtask will design and populate a database of NWFPs stakeholders which will be available to the public using the Action website. During the first year the content to be included and its format related to the NWFPs stakeholders will be decided. This database will be a way to facilitate the contact amongst stakeholders. A prototype of this database is already available in the current website which can be seen by following the beta view link already provided.
Subtask 5.3: Joint scientific papers
This Action intends to publish joint scientific papers which take the form of review papers on each of the NWFP research fields (ecology, modelling, economics and marketing, policy and management) featured in the Action. Young scientists who will carry out STSMs under this Action will be strongly encouraged to publish their work as research papers.
Subtask 5.4: Final open international conference
Close to the end of the Action an open international scientific conference will be organized, providing a comprehensive state of the art, and presenting and disseminating the results of the Action. Efforts will be made, to increase the visibility of this Action, by contacting major International Forestry institutions such as IUFRO, FAO and EFI as well as major European associations dealing with NWFPs. This conference shall also be complemented by showcasing the results achieved by the STSMs. Proceedings of the final open international conference shall be published.
Subtask 5.5: Book on European NWFPs
A book on “Sustainable management of European non-wood forest products” summarising the main findings and conclusions of the Action will be written. This book intends to be a legacy from the knowledge compiled and reviewed during the Action.