Non-timber forest products collection and processing brought together Ukrainian foresters and USFS expert

Towards the end of May 2015, Western Ukrainian foresters had a chance to interact and exchange ideas with USFS NTFP specialist Jim Chamberlain together and USFS International Programs representative Shelia Slemp.
The main aim of this visit was to bring up and discuss the issues of non-timber forest products (NTFP) collection and processing that nowadays often are unfairly forgotten and not utilized by forest management enterprises of Ukraine. Visit of Jim Chamberlain Shelia Slemp had several milestones, important to be mentioned:

  • discussion with the UNFU professors about the possibilities of joint researches
  • visit and consultancy of forest enterprises that collect and process NTFP
  • capacity building of foresters from Western Ukraine on NTFP issues
  • symposium for UNFU students and professors on NTFP
  • meeting with donors and stakeholders in Kyiv

The first day of the mission was dedicated to the meeting with members of the Chair of Botany, Timber Studies and NTFP of the Forest and Park Management Institute of National Forest Technical University of Ukraine in Lviv and discussion the work which is done by professors of the chair and possibilities of joint researches, followed by the meeting with Deputy Rector of the University Mr. Prystaya Oleksiy, who expressed great interest in exchange of best management practices in timber tracking, road construction, and economics of forest management.
Next important part of the program was field visit to Volyn region, particularly to Manevychi and Tsuman state forest management enterprises that demonstrated their examples of non-timber forest product processing, started in Soviet times and managed to survive in the conditions of uncertainty and emerging market economy. Main products of these NTFP units are processed sap (pure birch sap and up to 15 varieties of sap drink mixed with fruit juices), various forest mushrooms and berries, pine extract and essential oil, medicinal herbs. This visit was the best format to learn how foresters deal with NTFP collection and processing, sales, and if any, marketing of final product, find out legislative and organizational peculiarities of this activity, discuss challenges and exchange ideas about improvement of the process and increasing of the revenues. The local foresters also showed their seed bank and forest nursery, which in fact also deals with NTFP by growing and distributing adjusted exotic decorative plants, besides the regeneration material of main forest tree species.
Next two days were spent for presentations and discussions of various aspects of NTFP management and use within the Seminar on sustainable management and use of NTFP in Ukrainian forests, with the participation of 29 representatives of state forest enterprises, regional forest and hunting administrations, environmental public institutions etc. from Volyn, Lviv, Zakarpattya, Chernivtsi,Ivano-Frankivsk and Rivne regions of Ukraine. Forests of all these regions are rich in wild-growing mushroom, berries, medicinal herbs, but besides these main NTFPs, enterprises work with decorative plants, traditional alpine sheep farming and production of cheese, wool and eco-tourism services, etc. Main topics presented and discussed during the seminar were: examples of NTFP production in Volyn region, perspectives for NTFP industry in Zakarpattya in accordance with NTFP recent inventory, interrelation of recreation and local products, made of NTFPs, gaps in NTFP industry in Ukraine. Among the sessions delivered by Jim Chamberlain with the respective practical group work, were: Markets and market assessment: how to promote and distribute your product; Customers, partners, channels; Inventory of NTFP, players and purpose of use; Production methods from wild-growing to cultivated; Management consideration and thinking about sustainable use.
And last, but not least, was the Symposium «Non-Timber Forest Products: Current State and Values in Recent Social-Ecological-Economic Context. International Perspective», held in National Forest Technical University of Ukraine in Lviv, that brought together nearly fifty professors and students. The Symposium was aimed at exchange of information among professors about current researches in different aspects of the topic and involving students to the issue. The participants learned from the presentations of local professors and invited speakers about the WWF and sustainable forest management; Non-timber forest products in USA and opportunities for collaboration; Current state and perspectives of non-timber forest products in Ukraine; Innovative technologies of harvesting and processing of non-timber forest products in the Ukrainian Carpathians; Non-timber forest products potential in Zakarpattia; Stakeholders’ perceptions of forest ecosystem services; Non-timber forest products in highly forested regions of Ukraine: diversity, value and local communities dependency; Non-timber forest products and the well-being of forest-dependent communities: a case study in the Ukrainian Carpathians; Use and governance of non-timber forest products in Ukraine: challenges and opportunities; Non-timber forest products: possible scenarios.
It was intended that all the events of the mission program will bring participants new food for thinking and motivation for acting. Hearing the feedbacks of foresters and students it seems the mission served its goal. We are thankful to USFS International program and USAID for the continuous expert support and hope next visits of USFS NTFP specialists will be made of new good examples.
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