StarTree Kicks Off in Barcelona
More than 45 participants from all over Europe gathered in the
historic site of Sant Pau, Barcelona, in November for the start of the largest European project on non-wood forest products (NWFP).
The stage for collaboration over the coming 4 years was set at the StarTree Project’s Kick-off Meeting, held on 21 and 22 November. This included the technical set-up of the project, modes of collaboration, and conceptual sessions for a harmonized approach in the highly diversified European forest landscape.
An excursion to a local producer and trader of truffles in Catalonia served as a hands-on example for NWFP and underpinned the marketing potential of innovative and competitive forest products and marketing solutions. Participants witnessed the journey of the black truffle, from the field, via processing to consumption.
Plantation owner Josep Maria Vilella guided the group around his truffle plantation in Baronia del Rialb, in the pre-Pyrenees, where truffles are grown from inoculated seedlings under a field of young oak trees. Truffle harvesters traditionally use dogs to find truffles in Catalonia and the group observed how the animals are trained to find only ripe truffles. With the truffles found, the group visited Lamount SL in Tàrrega, one of the leading Truffle trading and processing businesses in Spain, where they enjoyed a detailed explanation on the processing and commercialisation process.
Over the next 4 years, the StarTree project will be active in 14 case studies to demonstrate the full diversity of European NWFP evidence. It was a clear focus of the first meeting to gain common understanding of how to involve stakeholders across Europe, their interests and potential constraints to utilizing their portfolios of NWFP.
Involving a significant number of small and medium enterprises in the consortium is a clear signal that one of StarTree’s principal aims is applied and practically relevant research. In StarTree, the research community will connect to forest owners, land users, enterprises and business partners to put NWFP in the spotlight of product and market development. “StarTree should show that forests and the forest-based sector can provide multiple opportunities for a sustainable and green development based on innovative bio-based products”, says Robert Mavsar (EFIMED), who coordinates the consortium of 24 partners from 11 countries all over Europe, in recent EFI NEWS.
There are clear indications that NWFP play a significant role for a sustainable forest management in Europe and globally. However, scientific evidence, integral management and marketing concepts are widely missing. StarTree focuses on knowledge generation in management and marketing of NWFP, investigation of business models, and national, European and global business and trade patterns. Unraveling new potentials and identifying pathways towards diversified and coherent use of natural resources will be beneficial in a broader socio-economic context – for the forest owner, the entrepreneur, the consumer and the policy-maker in the context of latest European development goals.
StarTree is financed through the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission under the research theme 'Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology' funded to foster a Knowledge-Based Bio-Economy (KBBE).
More information: Robert Mavsar robert.mavsar (at) efi.int