Those portions of the Earths surface that are characterized by having distinct warm and cold seasons are known as the temperate zones. The forests that occupy temperate zones are diverse and complex. Conifers dominate some temperate zone forests while other are covered with broad-leaved or deciduous evergreen trees. Many temperate forests are mixtures of both conifers and broad-leaved trees.
The broadleaf forests of the temperate zones are composed of representatives of many plant families and genera. While many of these families and genera are unique to temperate climates, others are found in both the temperate and tropical regions. Moreover, a few families and genera of broad-leaved trees that are characteristic of the tropics are also found in some temperate forests. While some temperate forests, such as the Fagus sylvatica forests of central Europe, are composed of a single species, others may contain mixtures of up to 140 distinct species of trees.
The worlds temperate broadleaf forests provide a vast array of products that are beneficial to humans. The wood of many temperate broad-leaved trees is highly valued as a source of fuelwood or charcoal. The vast range of strength, durability, hardness, colour and texture of the wood of temperate broad-leaved trees has made them important sources of lumber used in construction, furniture, cabinetry, flooring and cooperage, as well as in speciality products such as gunstocks, turnery, carvings and basketry. Temperate broad-leaved trees are also important sources of non-wood forest products (NWFP), some of which have been used by humanity since prehistoric times. Some NWFP are the product of a single tree or small group of trees and, despite the best efforts of modern science and technology, no adequate substitutes have yet been found. Still others produce edible fruits and nuts and have become important in agriculture worldwide. Broad-leaved temperate trees have also many fungi, insects and other organisms associated with them and several have become commercially important products.
The objective of this paper is to provide a global review of the non-wood forest products provided by trees found in temperate broadleaf forests. Included in this paper is the range of non-wood forest products that this group of tree species provides and the places are indicated where these products are harvested. The products described are organized by the part of the tree from which they are obtained - entire trees, foliage and flowers, bark, resins, fruits, nuts and organisms closely associated with temperate broad-leaved trees. Where possible, data on levels of production and international trade are presented. Problems associated with the sustainable management of these products and compatibility or conflicts with other land uses are also presented. Both contemporary and historical or traditional uses of NWFP from temperate broad-leaved trees are discussed. Emphasis is placed on those species from which NWFP are harvested from either natural or planted forests as opposed to trees planted in orchards (e.g. pome or stone fruits, olives and certain nuts) which are considered to be important agricultural crops.
This information is presented to assist in identifying opportunities for management and production of NWFP as an integral part of economic development and poverty alleviation initiatives in economically depressed regions of the world where trees are an important element in the ecology, economics and human social structure. In addition, this information is also designed to help identify situations where special management of forests and woodlands may be appropriate to maintain or enhance the productivity of traditional or contemporary non-wood forest products or to develop a potentially beneficial new resource.