Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page


Department of Forest Utilisation, Agricultural University, WARSAW


The term minor forest utilisation has been gaining a wider meaning in multifunctional forestry as it covers not only a direct derivation of benefits from the forest (sometimes difficult to measure), but is also connected to protection, recreation or landscape functions of the forest. Minor forest utilisation as a branch of the Polish forest management has a particularly rich tradition and its importance has been growing despite many various modifications.

The Act on Forests, currently in force in Poland, describes (among other things) obligation of nonwood forest products harvesting in such a way which can assure a possibility of its biological restoration. Much more difficult is to create conditions to practically execute this obligation.

Problems of forest ground cover resources utilisation have become particularly significant in recent years. Constant increase in demand especially for some valuable forest fruit and mushrooms is being observed. Mass and uncontrolled harvest has become a serious threat for the forest environment. Disappearance of mycorrhiza fungi has been observed for the last 20 years and it is caused not only by excessive harvesting, but by high level of industrial pollution as well. It is an urgent need to create mechanisms, which would change existing exploitation into rational utilisation. A particularly important problem is conducting a reliable inventory of forest resources to enable rationalisation of their utilisation, as well as an expansion of new areas of non-wood forest products including plantations of medical plants, fruit plants and edible mushrooms.

Current problems and trends of changes in minor forest utilisation in Poland, weight of different disciplines of minor forest utilisation and data concerning the size of harvesting of selected non-wood forest products in recent years are presented in the poster. Moreover, a catalogue of recommendations for the field forestry is given. It should be also stressed the need of research problems in the utilisation of non-wood forest products, e.g.:


Minor forest products utilisation has its particularly rich tradition as a branch of forestry in Poland. The so-called Polish concept of forest minor production, being the effect of work and experience of generations of foresters, was developed in the 1940s under the supervision of professor WiesŶaw Grochowski. The concept's basic assumption has been the idea according to which the whole of forestry production process: both the production of wood and the production of all other forest uses, are oneness (3). Nowadays, in the multifunctional forest management. we observe the constant evaluation of the meaning of term “minor forest utilisation”. It covers not only a direct derivation of benefits from the forest (sometimes difficult to measure), but is also connected to protection, recreation or landscape functions of the forest.

In the 60s and 70s, minor forest utilisation in the State Forests had participated in up to 25% to the total value of forestry production (2). At present it would be extremely difficult to assess the actual value of minor forest production. The most substantial problem is the fact that the importance of minor forestry production has been nowadays underestimated by the forestry administration.

The document, Assumptions and Principles of Forest Utilisation under the Condition of Sustainable Forest Management (10), has been elaborated at the Department of Forest Utilisation of WAU. This elaboration has synthesized the state-of-the-art of the modern problems of forest utilisation, including minor forest goods utilisation. It defines the most important research directions and determines in detail recommendations for the practice of forestry.

Below presented is a brief outline of the selected aspects of non-wood forest products utilisation in Poland, the most resent dynamic tendencies, the most urgent research problems and the recommendations for practical forestry.

Utilisation of forest floor resources

The problems connected with utilisation of forest floor goods are currently becoming especially important in Poland. The Polish concept of minor forest production assumed that the harvest of forest floor economic plants and mushrooms be organized or, at least, supervised by the administration of the State Forests. This idea had found its practical expression in the large network of purchase spots. Those were run following the close cooperation with local foresters. On the other hand, the gathering of plants and mushrooms for the collectors' own use and other than protected species and carried outside the protected areas was unlimited and, actually, out of control. It should be stress that the Act on Forests, currently in force in Poland, ensures the free access to the forest and to all resources of forest ground cover. Therefore, the control under the exploitation of such resources is very complicated.

The research study conducted mainly by the Forest Research Institute and the Department of Forest Utilisation of the Warsaw Agricultural University and aimed at successive identification of the raw material resource bases of the most important forest floor fruits and accompanied by the information obtained from the purchasing spots of forest fruits, gave reliable data on the utilisation of the resource bases. At present, however, no reliable comprehensive data are available on the actual level of harvest in forests, because of the privatization of the companies dealing with purchasing fruits, herbs and mushrooms. Moreover, recorded has been the continuous growth of demand, especially for some, highly valuable, fruits and mushrooms: billberry, chantarelle and edible boletus (11). The intensive, non-controlled gathering is still a growing problem and threat. Also, the unprofessional collection of berries leads to the injury of the shrubs, impeding or, in extreme cases, even rendering impossible the regeneration of blueberry patches (2). During the last two decades, rapid extinction of mycorrhizal fungi has been observed, this being caused by the high level industrial pollution, and especially by the combined effect of acidification and increased level of nitrogen in forest soils (6,7). To protect the mushrooms and berry fields it is, thus, an urgent necessity not only from the point of view of their utilisation but also - it is conditioned by the requirements of the protection of forest. The above does not mean the complete resignation from the harvest of the foregoing goods - it is necessary to create such mechanisms that would change the present-day exploitation into rational utilisation.

One of the important aspects of utilisation of edible mushrooms is the actually large disproportion between the number of commonly recognized and collected species (this being 5–10) and that of all edible fungi species in Poland (the latter being well above 1000). An important problem seems to be, thus, the promotion of selected valuable though unknown to the wide public mushroom species. Cultivation of some mushroom species could be an effective element of such promotion. At present, Pleurotus ostrelatus (Jacq.) Kummer, a dozen years ago absolutely unknown in Poland, has become a commonly cultivated mushroom species. The range of species worth cultivation may be wider even though only saprophytic species may be practically considered.

The main directions of research study connected with the utilisation of forest floor resources are:

Resin taping

The role of minor forest utilisation in the forest management of Poland has been recently subjected to significant alteration. In the period after World War II, the leading branch of forest utilisation was - until the end of the 70s, collection of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) resin. Beginning with the early 80s however, a process of continuous decrease and finally complete cessation of resin harvest has been observed (Table 1). Our domestic production of resin was totally supplanted by the imported raw material, first of all from Belarus, the Ukraine, China and Brazil. The raw material resources, estimated in the after war period for some 30 thousand tons a year, are currently assessed to be approximately 24 thousand tons a year. Theoretically it is possible to reactivate resin collection even at a level approaching the maximum one (from the year 1961: 24.5 thousand tons (9)) without any negative influence on the natural environment. In order to accomplish this, an analysis of economic efficiency would be however indispensable and besides, the world market prices level would also be very influential.

It should be stressed the need to research problems connected with resin taping. The most general, but substantial one is the assessment of the possibility to reactivate resin harvest in Poland. To perform it, study on the assessment of the possibility to use environment friendly stimulators of resin leak and the analysis of the market of resin and resin products should be also executed.

Table 1. Selected non-wood forest products harvested in Poland (1980–1997) in tons (8)

Resin926584036400  806    0      0      0
Forest fruits282480103006125825256834566
Edible mushrooms607851512792  618  87  940  761

Utilisation of bark and needles of forest trees

Spruce bark was commonly used in Poland in the tanning industry in the fifties and sixties (reaching the maximum level of more than 16 thousand tons in the year 1952 - (4; Table 2.)). Later, however, its utilisation has been decreased as a result of the import of high quality tannin raw materials and the common use of synthetic tanning agents. Large amounts of pine bark are used in the production of fertilizers. No data are available on the actual size and use value of bark utilized this way. Still important forest raw material is the bark of oak and buckthorn (Frangula alnus) harvested for the needs of the pharmaceutical industry (with demand exceeding largely the supply), these are however merely hundreds of tons (5).

Under Poland's condition, the only rational direction of utilisation of forest tree needles is the production of volatile oils: the pine oil and, though to a lesser extent, the fir oil (5). The resource base, estimated in the 60s for some 225 thousand tons, and at present - for about 100 thousand tons (the decrease has been due the worsened health status of forest stands)- is used in just a very small extent: below 1%. The maximum amount of volatile oils ever produced was recorded in the year 1964, 30 tons. At present the yearly output is about one ton (2).

The most important directions of research study connected with this branch of minor forest utilisation are:

Table 2. Spruce bark utilisation in Poland (1945–1990) in tons (4,5)


Recommendations and conclusion

The profile of the minor forest utilisation as a branch of economy has been continuously changing. Those elements that used to be the most fundamental ones in the minor forest utilisation have been losing their importance while other previously unknown or considered not important elements (e.g., the use of mosses or bark for the ornamental purposes) are becoming more and more important for society.

The rational utilisation of non-wood forest goods needs a reliable survey of the resources. It seems that a close cooperation between forest management and forest utilisation services is a must within this scope.

The meaning of the term: forest utilisation, becomes wider under the condition of multiple-function forestry. This covers not only the widely understood profit gained (sometimes hardly assessable) from the forest but also it is closely connected with the protection, landscape or recreational functions of forest. The assessment of the value of these functions has been a challenge for minor forest utilisation as a science discipline.

The growing public interest in forest fruits and mushrooms forces one to prepare detailed, based on research results, principles and rules of their utilisation, such that would result in the most effective form of their active protection.

The plantation-type cultivation of healing plants, fruit-bearing plants and edible mushrooms is one of the possible forms of broadening the surface area of raw material bases, giving also the potential for a new income source for the State Forests.

A special form of supporting the existing resource bases is accomplishment of semi-plantations under the shelter of forest stand: artificial sowing, underplanting, promotion of natural regeneration. This can be especially vital in the case of some healing plants and fruit bearing plants as well as selected mushroom species.

The binding obligation in the Poland Forest Act, among others, requires that such collection of forest goods ensures their biological restoration. What is necessary is the creation of conditions enabling the practical accomplishment of the regulation.


  1. Glowacki S. 1999. PrzemysBowe wykorzystanie leśnych surowców ubocznych [Industrial Utilisation of Non-Wood Forest Products]. Pezegl d Techniki Rolniczej i Leśnej nr 5.
  2. Bowacki S. 2000. Aktualne problemy ubocznego uzytkowania lasu w Polsce [Recent Problems of Minor Forest Utilisation in Poland]. Stan i perspektywy badań w zakresie uzytkowania lasu. Konferencja naukowa IBL, Sikocin, 30–31.03.2000.
  3. Grochowski W. 1967. Polska koncepcja ubocznej produkcji leśnej w teorii i w praktyce [Polish Concept of Forest Minor Production - Theory and Practice]. Sylwan nr 11.
  4. Grochowski W. 1976. Uboczna produkcja leśna [Minor Forest Production]. PWN Warszawa.
  5. Grochowski W. 1992. Stan i perspektywy ubocznej produkcji leś_nej w Polsce [State and Perspective of Minor Forest Utilisation in Poland]. Stan i perspektywy trwalego uzytkowania lasu w Polsce. Konferencja naukowa KNL PAN i IBL, Warszawa, grudzień 1992.
  6. Grzywacz A. 1994. Konsekwencje dla polityki kompleksowej ochrony zasobów leśnych wynikaj_ce z eksploatacji i zagro_enia grzybowisk. Polska polityka kompleksowej ochrony zasobów leśnych [Polish Policy of Forest Resources Protection]. Warszawa, październik 1994.
  7. Grzywacz A. 1997. Użytkowanie grzybów leśnych - dawniej i dziś [Utilisation of Forest Mushrooms - Now and in the Past]. Postępy Techniki w Leśnictwie Nr 63.
  8. Leśnictwo 1997 [Forestry 1997]. Glówny Urząd Statystyczny. Warszawa 1997.
  9. Ostalski R. 1992. Możliwości i warunki reaktywowania żywicowania w Polsce [Possibility and Conditions for Reactivate Resin Harvest in Poland]. Stan i perspektywy trwalego użytkowania lasu w Polsce. Konferencja naukowa KNL PAN i IBL, Warszawa, grudzień 1992.
  10. Paschalis P. 1997. Zalożenia i zasady użytkowania lasu w trwalej i zrównoważonej gospodarce leśnej [Assumption and Principles of Forest Utilisation at Sustainable Forest Management]. Ministerstwo Ochrony _rodowiska i Zasobów Naturalnych. Warszawa, maj 1997.
  11. Staniszewski P. 1998. Użytkowanie zasobów runa leśnego w trwalej i zrównoważonej gospodarce leśnej [The Use of Forest Ground Cover Resource at Sustainable Forest Management]. Sylwan nr 8.


Département de l'utilisation des forêts, Université d'agronomie, VARSOVIE


L'expression “utilisation mineure des forêts” a pris un sens plus large en foresterie multifonctionnelle et couvre non seulement les avantages directs de la forêt (qui sont parfois difficiles à mesurer) mais aussi les aspects liés aux fonctions de protection, de loisirs ou de paysage de la forêt. En tant que volet de la gestion forestière polonaise, l'utilisation mineure des forêts a une tradition particulièrement riche et a gagné en importance malgré de nombreuses transformations de toutes sortes.

La loi sur les forêts en vigueur en Pologne prévoit (entre autres choses) l'obligation de récolter les produits forestiers autres que le bois selon des méthodes permettant de garantir la régénération biologique. Il est beaucoup plus difficile de créer les conditions permettant d'exécuter cette obligation dans la pratique.

Les problèmes liés à l'utilisation des ressources du couvert végétal forestier ont pris une importance particulière ces dernières années. On observe une augmentation constante de la demande de ces produits, en particulier de certains fruits et champignons forestiers qui ont une valeur marchande. Les récoltes massives et anarchiques représentent maintenant une menace sérieuse pour l'environnement forestier. La disparition des champignons mycorhiziens observée au cours des 20 dernières années est due non seulement à une cueillette excessive mais aussi à un taux élevé de pollution industrielle. Il est urgent de mettre en place des mécanismes permettant d'obtenir que l'exploitation actuelle devienne une utilisation rationnelle. Il est particulièrement important d'établir un inventaire fiable des ressources forestières pour permettre de rationaliser leur utilisation et de développer les zones recelant des produits forestiers autres que le bois, y compris en plantant des plantes médicinales, des espèces fruitières et des champignons comestibles.

Les problèmes actuels et la tendance de l'évolution de l'utilisation dite mineure des forêts en Pologne, la place des différentes disciplines de l'utilisation mineure des forêts et les données relatives aux volumes récoltés de quelques produits forestiers autres que le bois ces dernières années sont présentés dans le dossier. Celui-ci s'accompagne d'une liste de recommandations pour la foresterie pratique. Il faut également insister sur la nécessité de faire des recherches sur certains aspects de l'utilisation des produits forestiers, par exemple:

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page