StarTree 3rd Regional Stakeholder Group meeting in Catalonia
Poblet monastery hosted the third stakeholder meeting of StarTree on 13 April 2016. Technicians from the Catalan Forest Service, mycologists, experts in mushroom production and regulations, representatives from private and public forest owners, as well as of the mushroom and truffle industry gathered to discuss the latest advances within the StarTree project.
An overview of the situation of wild forest products across Europe and the main outcomes of the StarTree project introduced the participants into the diversity of legal frameworks, management possibilities and trade analyses affecting the sector. For Catalonia, the factors affecting the acceptance of introducing a mushroom picking regulation were presented. The different views of the private forest owners, the general society, the pickers, rural tourism and value chain stem from interviews and surveys conducted within the project. The economic and social effects were estimated according to travel cost and econometric methodologies, which shed light of the behaviours behind picking activities in Poblet forests, the three 2014 pilot areas or rather for the entire region.
Besides the latest experience with the regulation in Poblet, the concrete cases of Val d'Aran and Montes de Albarracín, both on mushroom picking permit systems launched in 2014, were showcased. Gemma Arjó explained the non-payment regulation implemented in communal forests of the Pyrenean county based on their decentralised forest management competences. While ensuring the local picking and benefits to rural tourism, challenges emerged in terms of signalling, awareness raising, logistics of permits emission, i.a. The facilitator of Albarracín (Teruel), Gonzalo Castillo explained the development of the agreement among remote and largely forested municipalities, and how the framework regulation in Aragón facilitated the establishment of a joint mushroom reserve covering the best mycological areas. After two years, the results are positive in terms of returns, even with the initial implementation costs. Importantly, the satisfaction of both local community and pickers complements the benefits of the risen funds to improve their forest resources.
Dani Oliach (FORECO, CTFC) gave an update of the strategic plan of the truffle sector. Since 2000, truffle production is being expanded at the rate of 800 hectares/year, with consolidating services around this value chain. Still, for its sustainable and competitive growth several actions are to be developed within the sector, reason for the Truffle Action Plan for Catalonia, the StarTree regional action research. The participants contributed to the related survey distributed during this meeting.
The session concluded with a vision exercise on the desired features for the fungal sector in terms of regulatory framework, which will complement the expert interviews conducted within the project. The forthcoming final conference in Barcelona will further contribute to the consolidation of the project results.
Photos: Elena Górriz