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Faculty of Forestry and Wood Technology
Mendel University of Agriculture and Forestry, BRNO
Czech Republic


There is a possibility of collecting different species of forest fruits and medicinal plants in the forests of the Czech Republic. Only utilisation of about one quarter to one half of biological yield of forest berries for commercial purposes, in yearly volume about 25,8–51,6 million kg and in total value about 39,3–78,7 million US dollars, could represent receipts about one sixth to one third of yearly timber volume sold on market. There was state support to the purchase and subsequent supply of non-wood forest products (NWFP) to processing industry before 1989. Inhabitants of the countryside were mostly interested in collection of NWFP because it was minor source of income, which they took in their jobs. There was economical transformation of economy of the Czech Republic after 1989 year. This transformation was occasion of disintegration of organisational structure of the purchase and supply of NWFP. Transformation had unfavourably influence to the countryside where possibility of employment had been worse. It could improve social conditions of the countryside population if they join in collection of NWFP. This collection could be organised by forming associations of collectors and their conjunction with customers in contemporary time, what would make optimum conditions for skilled carrying out and valorisation of the collection. The second possibility of organisation of collection is by making interest in companies working in forestry. These companies could accept NWFP as further source of their income, and that is why they would make new working places. Forming associations of collectors and joining companies working in forestry would have positive influence to skilled and economically carrying out exploitation of resources of NWFP and partial reduction of unemployment at the countryside. It is important to make better conditions for this exploitation of NWFP by partial modification of forest law in the Czech Republic.

Keywords: Non-wood forest products, forest fruits, medicinal plants, organisation, association, collection, countryside.


Forest ecosystems are appreciated as an important resource of wood. Other than wood, the forest is a resource for further products, too, which are called as Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFP). There has been an elaborate study about collection of forest berries and mushrooms by inhabitants in the Czech Republic (Sisak, 1997). This study was made mainly by virtue of: sociological surveys in representative samples of inhabitants, a set of foresters of the State Enterprise Forests of the Czech Republic, field monitoring, and forest management plans. This study was made on 2,341 million hectares of forest land; practically all of the forest land was accessible for inhabitants. Observations were made on: mushrooms, blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.), raspberry (Rubus idaeus L.), blackberry (Rubus fruticossus L.), elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.) and cranberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea L.) for the study in question. The total land area of berries in the study was 417 700 ha.

The results of the study show that the recreational collection of berries and mushrooms amounted to 46,4 million kg with an approximate total value of 67,5 million US dollars in 1994, and 58,5 million kg with an approximate total value of 85,5 million US dollars based on market prices of these commodities in 1995. These figures represented about one quarter to one third of annual timber volume sold on the market for those years. The total collection of berries was about 25% of its biological yield.

If we want sustainable management of the NWFP then we could use about one quarter to one half of its biological yield yearly, without the negative influences of the regenerative capacity of these resources. This potential yield amounts annually to 25,8–51,6 million kg with an approximate total value of about 39,3–78,7 million US dollars. These figures represent about one sixth to one third of the annual timber volume sold on the market and it could be a further source of income.

The forest is a very important resource of medicinal plants too. The number of species of medicinal plants is much higher and they cover the same or even larger area of the forests than berry species. However, this raw material basis is not quantified yet.

It is possible to collect forest fruits and medicinal plants from the end of April to October in climatic conditions of the Czech Republic. The best possibilities for collecting forest fruits and medicinal plants are in the month of July to the end of September.

The State of Organisation in the Collection and Subsequent Utilisation of Non-Wood Forest Products

This subject is possible to divide into two time sections:

a) Situation before 1989

People in the countryside were largely interested in the collection of forest fruits and this activity was a minor source of incomes to their main job.

The consumers co-operative, called JEDNOTA, was engaged in the purchase of forest fruits and mushrooms before 1989. The main activities of this co-operative were the sale of foodstuff and consumable goods to inhabitants in the countryside. The co-operative had a system of shops over the area of the Republic, and therefore, it practically had shops in all towns and villages. They published purchase price lists and the places of sale every time before the season of every collection of forest fruits. The purchase place shops were typically located in the countryside where the first qualitative separation was carried out. Money from the sale of goods was used for purchase and warehousing and cooling capacities were used for storage of these fruits. The next day the fruits were taken away and supplied either to the shops of this co-operative in towns or to processing companies.

State Entertainment, Lecive Rostliny Zbraslav, was also engaged in the purchase of medicinal plants from its collection and cultivation. This company had shaped a system of purchase places for the whole republic but had a regional character. Skilled workers made qualitative separation of medicinal drugs and purchasing in these places. Then purchase of raw material was, according to quality, either processed into medicinal teas or supplied to pharmaceutical or food making companies.

Mostly pensioners and schoolchildren were interested in the collection of medicinal plants. These activities were often supported by the State.

As it was mentioned, the organisation of purchase and subsequent utilisation of the forest fruits and medicinal plants was extremely successful.

b) Situation after 1989

There were big political and economical changes in our republic after 1989. The transformation of the economy had influences on all branches including both processing and business companies. Nationally operated JEDNOTA disintegrated into smaller parts, which started to operate regionally. There was also a loss of shops in this net- by privatisation and restitution to original holders, during the transformation. New companies started to work in a branch of business, including international business companies which concentrated their business strategy on big towns, and for that reason these smaller regional co-operative once, which started to concentrate more on business activities, partially reduced forest fruits purchase. This reduction of forest fruits purchase was made by problems with their subsequent supplying because processing companies had similar problems during transformation.

Economical transformation did not have a very big influence on the organisation of medicinal plants purchase. Even privatisation of State Entertainment, Lecive Rostliny Zbraslav, signified reduction of the purchase places, nevertheless the new rise of new firms with interest in medicinal plants purchase partially compensated this reduction of purchase places.

The approval of the new forestry law was an important factor in the collection and subsequent utilisation of NWFP. This forest law conserved the rights of inhabitants for free admission to all forests regardless of tenure (with the exception of reduction in protection areas and army forests), but the collection of NWFP was defined only for own personal use. This vague formulation concerning the collection and subsequent sale of NWFP had influence to the reduction of the sale of these products. There are some people who pay attention to the collection and subsequent sale of these products but it is only a sale of berries and mushrooms to tourists in regions near the borders with Germany and Austria.

Typical forest medicinal plants were taken away from the purchase lists and firms engaged in medicinal plants purchase concentrated only on cultivating and out forest growing medicinal plants purchase.

Possibilities of Organisation of Collection and Subsequent Utilisation of Non-Wood Forest Products

Agriculture and forestry were the main source of income for people in the countryside. There were changes in agriculture after 1989, which made a reduction to half of the previous working places and for that reason unemployment had risen in the countryside. There was a problem with employing these people in towns because they would had to commute every day to the job, pay for traffic fees, and firms generally request specific qualification in their branch.

By these reasons, the exploitation of NWFP could be a source of income and work for unemployed people in the countryside. Organisation and skilled management could have a positive influence on the sustainable exploitation of these resources, which could provide a permanent source of income for inhabitants in the countryside.

It is not possible to make the same working system of the NWFP purchase and subsequent utilisation, as that took place during the time of existence of JEDNOTA, and for that reason organisation of these activities could be realised in two ways:

a) Private persons

This could be the best solution to make associations or co-operatives of collectors for organising exploitation of NWFP. The association could have regional character and it could associate collectors of the region, and in the future, regional associations could join into one national association. This association could take care of the skilled planning, organisation and collection of NWFP, and the association could also represent collectors in business connections with customers.

Regional co-operation of the association of collectors with regional net of sale firm and processing firm could be the best way for utilisation of forest fruits without expensive building up warehousing capacities. Associations of collectors would assure collection and quality of forest fruits by the requirements of the processing firms. There would be direct supply connections between collectors, represented by the associations, and processing firms in this regard. Associations and processing firms could use the storing and transporting capacities of the sale firms after agreement with them on what could be seasonal minor source of income for the sale firms. Purchase price would be appointed for the place of passing on production of collectors, what could be shop of sale firm, and processing firm would pay costs for storing and transporting. The direct connection collector-consumer will be advantageous for this model what would be presented in better realising of collected production for collectors, because purchase price would not be negatively influenced by middlemen.

There would be direct connection between collectors and consumers in the case of medicinal plants. Advantages would be the same as for forest fruits. People in the countryside mostly have sufficient free spaces in their buildings, which could be used for drying and temporary storage of medicinal plants. After a small modification, it would not be necessary to build new buildings and even to connect further firm to this organisation structure.

Creation of all the models mentioned would be a bit difficult from the organisation point of view, because these models have to be built from the beginning, and for that reason there would be some problems with first time agreements among the participants. In the beginning, partial support of the state would be useful for informing of the people about possibilities of commercial collection of NWFP and the establishing of associations, which could take care of the skill of carrying out the collection.

b) Companies working in forestry

Wood is the main activity and source of income for these companies. All activities carried out in the forest are aimed for timber production. Considering that these companies have shaped an organisational structure in their area, have disposal of some finances, and have transporting and storage capacities, it would not be big problem for them to include collection of NWFP in their activities.

These companies could employ seasonal workers for collection of forest fruits. Regarding the area on which these companies operate and the potential volume of production of fruits in these areas, it could be an interesting source of income for these companies.

Workers in silviculture operations could be used for collection of medicinal plants. These workers could devote a part of working time to silviculture activities and partly to the collection and drying of medicinal plants. Considering that they could reduce working time in silviculture activities, these companies would have to employ a specific number of workers dependent on the proportion between the time for silviculture operations and the time for collection of medicinal plants.

There would be a direct connection between these companies and consumers in both of these models. It could be easier to form these models because of the existing organisational structures, finance sources and skilled staff of these companies.


All the designing variants would have a positive influence for economical and control the utilisation of resources for NWFP. Partial reduction of unemployment in the countryside would be no small contribution. But specific provisions are necessary so we could utilise NWFP in some of mentioned models.

The clear formulation of this sphere in forest law is the most important step for utilisation of NWFP. There is a requirement to define conditions for commercial collection and at the same time the skilled supervision on carrying out the collection. There could be a method of estimating the areas with occurrence of NWFP, and dividing these areas for commercial and recreational collection to eliminate conflicts between these two divisional groups of interest.

It will only be in the interest of the people and the companies for the utilisation of NWFP after this change in forest law, because the utilisation of these products is only a question of good organisational planning, collection and supply of these products to the consumers.


Sisak, L. 1997. Importance of non-wood forest production in the Czech Republic (Vyznam produkce lesa krome dreva v Ceske republice), Lesnictvi-Forestry, 43, (2): 49–66.


Faculté de foresterie et de technologie du bois
Université Mendel d'agronomie et de foresterie, BRNO
République tchèque


Les forêts de la République tchèque recèlent différentes espèces de fruits et de plantes médicinales qui peuvent être récoltées. En utilisant seulement le quart ou la moitié environ du rendement biologique des baies à des fins commerciales, pour un volume annuel d'environ 25,8 à 51,6 millions de kg et pour une valeur totale d'environ 39,3 à 78,7 millions de dollars É.-U., on pourrait obtenir des revenus représentant environ le sixième, voire le tiers, des revenus tirés du volume annuel de bois vendu sur le marché. Avant 1989, l'Etat soutenait l'achat et ensuite l'offre de produits forestiers autres que le bois destinés à l'industrie de transformation. Les habitants des campagnes étaient très intéressés par la collecte de ces produits parce qu'elle représentait une petite source de revenus et que cette activité était intégrée à leur travail. L'économie de la République tchèque s'est transformée après 1989 et à cette occasion la structure d'organisation de l'achat et de l'offre de ces produits s'est démantelée. La mutation économique a été défavorable pour le secteur rural, où il est devenu difficile de trouver du travail. En ajoutant la collecte de produits forestiers autres que le bois à leur activité, les ruraux pourraient améliorer leur niveau de vie. La récolte pourrait être organisée par la formation d'associations de cueilleurs qui seraient mises en rapport avec des acheteurs, immédiatement après la récolte ce qui créerait les conditions optimales pour récolter et utiliser les produits de façon professionnelle. Il existe une autre manière d'organiser la récolte : il s'agirait d'intéresser à cette activité les entreprises de foresterie. Ces entreprises pourraient voir dans la collecte des produits forestiers autres que le bois une autre source de revenus et créeraient donc de nouveaux emplois. La constitution d'associations de cueilleurs et la participation à cette activité d'entreprises d'exploitation forestière permettraient une exploitation professionnelle et économique des ressources provenant des produits autres que le bois et permettraient aussi d'abaisser en partie le taux de chômage dans les zones rurales. Il importe de rendre les conditions de cette exploitation plus favorables en apportant certaines modifications à la législation en matière de forêts.

Mots clefs: Produits forestiers autres que le bois, fruits des bois, plantes médicinales, organisation, association, collecte, campagne.

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