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Messrs. Stanislaw RZADKOWSKI & Michal KALINOWSKI
Forest Research Institute, Forest Use Department, WARSAW


This paper reviews commercial harvesting of non-wood forest products (NWFP) - first of all understory vegetation resources (berries, mushrooms and herbal plants). The reason for decreasing NWFP harvesting statistics in the last years consists in changes in management solutions adopted recently - from one state company to many private firms - the data of the Polish statistical office is not complete. Until 1999, because of new regulations, the view on the harvest of NWFP is more detailed and complete. The paper also makes a comparison between harvesting and resources of some important NWFP.

Key-words: non-wood-forest-products; non-wood-forest-products-resources; non-wood-forest-products-harvesting


Inventory and study of yield of the most important non-wood forest products and recording of data on their harvesting - for commercial and own use are very important in sustainable forest use. Systematic inventories conducted in the same time intervals allow assessing of resource dynamics. Comparing of data on resources and harvesting makes it possible to evaluate whether the use is sustainable.

Detailed information about “geography of resource” and yield of the most important forest berry - bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) and herb - alder buckthorn (Frangula alnus Mill.) is already available (1). Unfortunately, in Poland the complex research on other forest floor species has not been conducted. Mushrooms also have not been a subject of inventory and yield research yet. Harvesting for personal use has never been studied, unlike in Czech Republic (8), Finland (7) or Sweden (4).

Before 1989 very detailed statistics of harvested forest berries, mushrooms and herbs had been recorded. After this year, when companies dealing with purchase and processing of NWFP became private, statistics are very rough and show lower level of harvesting than is actual.

Methodology of Inventory and Yield Research

In Poland inventories were carried out according to similar methodology. Workers of Forest Service filled out questionnaires about the cover area and some other characteristics of inventoried species. The result of inventory was the complete and detailed data on “geography of resources” of understory vegetation.

Yield research is the second step to recognise forest floor resources. It is realized using a net of sample plots, on which berries or herb raw-materials are gathered. Grochowski (1) introduced two important terms: theoretical yield - everything that could be harvested, and practical yield - the amount of berries or herb raw-material that can be harvested with economical benefits and without resource destruction. Only data collected in these two parts of research give the full information about resources.

Resource and Harvesting of the Most Important Forest Floor Species

Resource - as a practical average yield, and commercial harvesting of selected forest floor species, organized by state, are shown in Table 1. Grouping of data from many years makes it possible to avoid seasonal variations in yields.

Table 1. Resource and harvesting of selected understory species*

 SpeciesPractical average yield per year tonnesHarvesting - average per year, tonnes
bilberry(Vaccinium myrtillus L.)301051371514466669212710
red bilberry, cowberry (Vaccinium vitisidaea L.)12855412066189
cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccus L.)4701601263919
wild raspberry (Rubus idaeus L)2200104570824264
blackberry (Rubus sp.)4960195816661236368
rose (Rosa sp.)31201287724829370
mountain ash(Sorbus aucuparia L.)46954787681046863
elder (Sambucus nigra L.)37555338941287834
chanterelle(Cantharellus cibarius Fr.)5000-262219511356
edible boletus(Boletus edulis Bull.: Fr)3000-49927870
butter boletus (Suillus luteusL.:Fr.)3200-412382181

* Data are compiled from “Uboczna produkcja lesna” (1) (Table 12 and 13, page 288, Table 16, page 316, and Table 25, page 459). Data on the practical average yield per year, except bilberry, were estimated by specialists in 1965.

Nowadays, according to authors (1, 6), these resources are rather lower. Only commercial, organised harvesting is shown in Table 1. No one recorded gathering activity of people for personal use, thus its level is unknown. Harvesting organised by the state was decreasing greatly from year to year.

If the estimates of practical yield were correct, the use of forest vegetation resources was sustainable. Among forest berries only bilberry was utilized intensively - in 1961–1970 the harvesting reached almost a half of the practical yield (to obtain the total harvest amount it would be necessary to add harvesting for personal use). Utilization of mushrooms was generally intensive but far to “overharvesting” as well.

In 1998 Forest Use Department of Forest Research Institute (Warsaw) conducted the inventory of four herb species, which are under partial conservation: alder buckthorn (Frangula alnus Mill.), lily of the valley (Convallaria maialis L), asarabacca (Asarum europaeum L.), and common bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi L.). The method used in the inventory was similar to that used in earlier works. The results of the inventory revealed that the resources of the first two species are large, while the resources of asarabacca and common bearberry are a little low and it might be necessary to put these species under total conservation. A comparison of the results of two alder buckthorn inventories conducted in 1963 (2) and 1998 is made in Table 2.

Table 2. The area of alder buckthorn (Frangula alnus Mill.)

 YearGround cover class (%) Total
 1–30 31–60above 60


Unfortunately, due to lack of research work and detailed statistics, such comparisons as presented in Table 1 are impossible now. Existing inventory and yield research results are out of date and statistics are not complete. The only way to solve this problem is the so-called multipurpose forest inventory (5). According to Glowacki (3), in 2000, polish Main Statistical Office begins to gather more detailed information about the harvesting of understory vegetation resources.


  1. Grochowski, W. 1990: Uboczna produkcja lesna. [Minor Forest Production]. PWN. Warszawa.
  2. Grochowski, W., Zdanowski, A. 1963. Bazy kruszyny pospolitej (Frangula alnus Mill.). [Resource of alder buckthorn (Frangula alnus Mill.)] Forest Research Institute. Warsaw. Typescript.
  3. Glowacki, S. 2000: Aktualne problemy ubocznego uzytkowania lasu w Polsce [Recent problems of Minor Forest Utilisation in Poland]. Stan i perspektywy badan w zakresie uzytkowania lasu. Konferencja naukowa, IBL, Sekocin, 30–31.03.2000.
  4. Hultman, S.G. 1983: Hur mycket bär och swamp plockar vi egentligen? [How many berries and mushrooms do we actually pick?]. Var FU 35.
  5. 5.Lund, H. G. 1998: The Non-Wood Forest Resource Mystery. EFI Proceedings. 23.
  6. Muszynski, Z., Muszynski, J., 2000: Problem zrownowazonego i trwalego uzytkowania runa lesnego. [Problem of sustainable utilization of forest floor resources]. Stan i perspektywy badan w zakresie uzytkowania lasu. Konferencja naukowa IBL, Sekocin, 30–31.03.2000.
  7. Saastamoinen, O., Lohiniva, S. 1989: Picking of wild berries and edible mushrooms in the Rovaniemi region of Finnish Lapland. Silva Fennica. Vol. 23. No 3.
  8. Sisak, L. 1998: Socio-economic importance of main non-wood forest products in the Czech Republic. Lesnictvi-Forestry, 44 (12).


Institut de recherche forestière
Département de l'utilisation des forêts, VARSOVIE


Les auteurs du document étudient l'exploitation commerciale des produits forestiers autres que le bois — en premier lieu les ressources du sous-étage du couvert végétal (baies, champignons et plantes aromatiques). La diminution des statistiques relative à l'exploitation de ces produits au cours des dernières années tient à des transformations dans les méthodes de gestion adoptées récemment— passage d'une unique société publique à un grand nombre de sociétés privées — ce qui fait que les données de l'Office polonais de statistique ne sont pas complètes. Jusqu'en 1999, du fait de la nouvelle réglementation, l'information sur les volumes récoltés de produits forestiers autres que le bois est plus détaillée et plus complète. Les auteurs comparent également la récolte et le volume des ressources pour plusieurs produits importants.

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