Contact: Laura Bouriaud
University of Suceava
The case study region is situated in the North-East of Romania covering 36,850 km2. The main focus is on the western part, encompassing the counties of Suceava, Neamt and Bacău situated along the Carpathian mountains with a forest cover higher than 40%. In the other three counties (Botoşani, Iaşi and Vaslui) the importance of NWFP is low due to the scarce presence of forests. In Suceava, Bacău and Neamt, forestry is one of the main rural economic activities and the basis for a strong timber industry. Being situated on the Eastern side of the Carpathian mountains, the forests here are diverse, from Norway spruce-based forests at high altitude to oak-based forests in the hilly region.
Collection and production of NWFPs represent a traditional activity of the main forest manager, Romsilva, who is managing the State forests, but also a traditional activity for rural inhabitants. Before the transition to a market economy, the national forest administration had annual plans with targets for the production and collection of NWFPs. Several years after 1990, the practice was abandoned, but in the last decade, Romsilva has again started to pay attention to NWFPs. Now they are an important part in its business portfolio, mainly forest fruits and berries, mushrooms and game. Traditionally, pickers of forest fruits, berries, mushrooms and medicinal plants were the rural inhabitants, irrespective of their income; their motivation was for household needs or for selling to Romsilva collection points. However, the least well-off among the population were always involved with the collection of forest products through seasonal work that represented their main source of income for the whole year. Romania ranks 7th and 8th in the world regarding the production of blueberries and redberries (FAOSTAT 2010).