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ForestHarvest: non-timber forest products in Scotland


Research & development initiatives

Focusing on wild and woodland products in Scotland

Latest initiative: Scottish Wild Harvests Association (SWHA)

This association of Scottish wild harvests businesses and others with an interest in the sector was launched in July 2009.

For more information see the Scottish Wild Harvest Association's website.

Wild Harvests Sector Support

The Wild Harvests Sector Support project (WHSS) continued Reforesting Scotland's work of encouraging sustainable livelihoods from the forests and the wild land of Scotland.

During November 2008, the project organised a pair of meetings, one in the north and one in the south of the country. These meetings brought together people from a wide range of wild harvests businesses and organisations. The report on these meetings is available to download: Ways forward for Scotland's Wild Harvests businesses (PDF document 381KB)

These meetings were followed in April 2009 by a two-day set of wild harvests events, during which the Scottish Wild Harvests Association (SWHA) was formed, and SWHA's official launch in July 2009.

More information on the Reforesting Scotland website.

Sustainable Forest Harvest - Monitoring NTFP harvests

This Reforesting Scotland project developed methods for monitoring wild harvests. It was a response to direct recommendations agreed by consensus of a wide range of interest groups during the Scotland-wide Wild Harvests seminar in May 2006. At the seminar researchers, harvesters and species specialists collectively identified a strong need for information about sustainable harvesting levels and practice around NTFPs in Scotland.

The project began in November 2007 and ended in summer 2009. It focused on three species groups: fungi, sphagnum moss and lungwort (a lichen, Lobaria pulmonaria).

For more information visit the Sustainable Forest Harvest project page on the Reforesting Scotland website.

NTFP Sector Research and Development Project

Responding to recommendations made at the 2006 Wild Harvests seminar in Beauly, this project aimed to evaluate the potential for a trade body to represent and support NTFP enterprises in Scotland. Face-to-face interviews with a range of businesses were used to learn more about their needs and views. At the same time, preparatory work was done towards expanding and developing the ForestHarvest business directory to give increased online support and information for traders, gatherers, customers and everyone with an interest in NTFPs in Scotland.

This project was funded by Forestry Commission Scotland and Scottish Enterprise, and was carried out during Jan-Mar 2007.

For more information contact Reforesting Scotland.

Wild Harvests report & seminar

Dr Marla Emery, during her Wild Harvests research trip. Photo by Les Bates.Forest Research (part of the Forestry Commission) teamed up with an American researcher, Dr Marla Emery, to study the current use of NTFPs in Scotland. This research was to be qualitative rather than quantitative, aiming to broaden our understanding of the motivation for NTFP gathering, and people's perceptions of problems and opportunities.

More background information from Forest Research

The Wild Harvests report

The research was started in autumn 2004, and the report was published in May 2006:

A summary of the findings is available here.

The full report is available from the Forest Research website: Wild Harvests from Scottish Woodlands: Social, cultural and economic values of contemporary non-timber forest products.

The Wild Harvests seminar

A seminar, 'The Future of Wild Harvests in Scotland', was held in Beauly on 10-11 May 2006. Click here for a brief report of the Wild Harvests seminar. Fuller details available on the Scottish Forest Industries Cluster website.


Wild Harvests species data

As part of the Wild Harvests project, the report's findings have been incorporated into the ForestHarvest species directory.

Studying the Moss Harvest in Scotland

Gathered from non-native conifer plantations, moss is a potentially sustainable non-timber forest product. Moss is used for floral decorations and wreaths and sold in florists and garden centres, however very little is known about the actual extent of the moss harvest or its value (economic and social) to the people of Scotland. University of Edinburgh student Sam Staddon conducted her Masters dissertation research on the subject, under the supervision of Alison Dyke and in conjunction with Forest Research. During the summer of 2006, Sam spoke to a wide variety of harvesters, landowners and managers, florists, garden centres and moss experts, trying to uncover and document the extent and value of the harvest.

This timely research fed into the process of producing the Scottish Moss Collection Code.

A summary of the study findings is available here (PDF document, 614KB)

The full report is available here (PDF document, 1,539KB)

Rural Alternatives Shared Futures

This major pilot project by Reforesting Scotland identified opportunities for increasing knowledge and use of NTFPs.

Local Project Co-ordinators, chosen by four community woodland groups around Scotland, helped to develop local NTFP use and benefits, with an emphasis on local needs and opportunities, on increasing local knowledge and skills, and on starting projects which could continue far beyond the lifespan of Rural Alternatives itself. A national Project Manager, Jake Paul, based at the Reforesting Scotland office in Edinburgh, was there to give further support and co-ordination. The project included training in traditional skills and knowledge of NTFPs, and encouraged participatory planning processes within the communities to enable continuing skills development and the transfer of knowledge to other members of community. The overall goal was to increase knowledge and stimulate wider use and appreciation of NTFPs throughout Scotland.

The four partner groups are Culag Community Woodland Trust (Lochinver), Sunart Oakwoods area (Acharacle), Tinne Beag Workers' Coop (Newton Stewart), and Kirkhill and Bunchrew Community Trust (by Inverness).

More information about the project is available on the Rural Alternatives Shared Futures project page of the Reforesting Scotland website

Published outputs of the project, including 6 case studies, are available to download from the Rural Alternatives Shared Futures project reports page

Bog Myrtle in bulk?

In 2005 bog myrtle (aka sweet gale) found its way into newspaper reports in Scotland. This follows some years of research and negotiation between Scottish NTFP company Highland Natural Products and high-street giant Boots. Highland Natural Products are now looking for partners to devote a total of 12,500 acres of this as a commercial crop. Interest has been expressed by a range of land managers, including community groups such as the Assynt Foundation.

More info in Highland Natural Products' Myrica Gale Project Update

Boreal Forest Garden

The Taiga Rescue Network and Scottish-based LandLab Ltd joined to create a Boreal Forest Garden for the 2005 Chelsea Flower Show. The silver-medal winning display was designed as a boreal forest clearing with native plants. Everything in the garden had some type of use, whether edible or medicinal, to raise awareness of the importance of threatened boreal forests to indigenous peoples and rural communities. TRN staff spoke directly to over 3000 visitors at the show, and gained extensive TV, newspaper, magazine, radio and Internet coverage. Visit TRN's website for more info, including NTFP factsheet [pdf, 0.4MB], or email Damien Lee.

Berry Scotland

The Berry Scotland Programme aims to increase the consumption of Scottish soft fruit in Scotland. The programme is overseen by the Berry Scotland Board, a multi-sectoral group of experts from health, agriculture, land use, variety development, product development and marketing.

In Scotland, levels of heart disease, stroke and cancer are among the highest in Europe. The project hopes that by promoting the health benefits of soft fruit (which contain higher levels of antioxidants than most other fruits), it can help increase the consumption of Scottish berries, whilst boosting the berry industry.

Although the main focus of the project is field cultivation, there is scope for growing berries in woodlands.

Visit the Berry Scotland website

The Highland Berry Growers Group

This group established sites around the Highlands where they conducted growing trials on several species including cranberry, lingonberry, grape kiwi and cloudberry. The species tested at each site varied according to the location and soil conditions. Two of these sites were in community woodlands, one of which, Northwest Sutherland Community Forest Trust, collected locally sourced blaeberries to add to the trial.

To the best of our knowledge, this project is no longer running. If you know otherwise, please get in touch!

Flora Celtica

Flora Celtica was based at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, documenting and promoting the knowledge and sustainable use of native plants in the Scotland. Outputs included the Millennium-funded Flora Celtica - Scotland 2000 (1999-2001) and a book, also called Flora Celtica.

Visit the Flora Celtica website

Flora Celtica - the book


Last updated: 23sept09

Quick Index

Latest Initiative: Scottish Wild Harvests Association

Wild Harvests Sector Support

Sustainable Forest Harvest - Monitoring NTFP harvests

NTFP Sector Research and Development Project

Wild Harvests report & seminar

Wild Harvests species data

Scotland's moss harvest

Rural Alternatives

Bog myrtle

Boreal Forest Garden

Berry Scotland

Highland Berry Growers Group

Flora Celtica

Reforesting Scotland

Reforesting Scotland

Reforesting Scotland is a membership-based charity promoting the planting and sustainable management of native woodlands. Reforesting Scotland has delivered a variety of NTFP-related projects over the years: such as information on identifying and assessing NTFP potential (see the Inventory section of this website); seminars on various aspects of NTFP marketing and production (mostly recently the 2006 Wild Harvests seminar); an NTFP information sheet (this can be purchased individually or as a part of the Community Woodland Information Pack); the 2007 NTFP Sector Research and Development Project; the Rural Alternatives Shared Futures project; the Sustainable Forest Harvest project; and the Wild Harvests Sector Support project.

More info on Reforesting Scotland's NTFP project page