Contact: Gerhard Weiss, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna
• Raising awareness and impart knowledge about NWFPs among the farmers in the Austrian Nature Parks
• Increasing income opportunities of farmers and landowners in the Nature Parks
• Developing new processing and merchandising facilities
• Supporting the existing and future nwfps-producers by building networks for a common and therefore stronger market appearance
• Preparing business plans for an enterprise which serves as a hub for combining the scattered productions
About Styria Region
Styria is also known as the “green heart of Austria” because it is the province with the highest share of forest area: around 61% of the territory is forested, totalling some 1 million ha of forest. Timber production is the main goal and has helped to develop a strong timber industry.
NWFPs have been of high relevance historically (resin tapping, leaf and litter). Today some older practices are still important (hunting and fishing, cattle grazing, gravel digging), while new activities have been added to these: protection against natural hazards, kerbing of drinking water, horse riding, or mountain biking. The forestry sector itself has contributed some specific services, e.g. forest pedagogies and the establishment of biomass-based village heating systems. These conservation services and village heating systems are examples of forest owners finding ways to market new services from the forest. In the case of district heating, farm forest owners’ co-operatives in particular do not only provide wood chips but run the plants themselves and thus benefit directly from the added value produced.
Although the income from NWFPs in Austria is still low compared to that resulting from timber production (without considering bio-energy), there seem to be high latent potentials. Competitiveness is affected negatively by small forest properties and high labour costs, but positively by the image of forests as regional resources, and a good institutional support in many provinces.
Within STARTREE, it is aimed to study and develop the innovative project Naturparke Spezialitäten (Nature Parks’ specialities). The Nature Parks association is developing a brand for special products from their areas, including regional agricultural and forestry products such as honey, jam, schnapps, etc. Marketing methods shall be further developed as part of the STAR TREE project and further innovative examples will be analysed, such as the possible cultivation of Edelweiss for skin care products using extract of Edelweiss as an ingredient.