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Development and implementation of an integrated system for the sustainable management of wild fungus-producing forest ecosystems in Valdorva, Navarra (MYCOVALDORBA)
Date du début: 3 sept. 2001, Date de fin: 3 sept. 2004 PROJET  TERMINÉ 

Background The Valdorba region’s main ecosystems are meadows, woodlands and traditionally cultivated land. The area boasts a wide variety of wild mushrooms, the demand for which has increased greatly in recent years. Mushroom collection and cultivation is an important economic resource in country areas with depressed economies, and is considered to have a great potential for rural economic development in areas such as Valdorba. In Navarra, most mushrooms of interest grow in woodland areas owned by local authorities and managed by the Navarra Regional Government. However, mushroom production and collection is generally not controlled and managed in a sustainable manner. The lack of management often leads to conflicts between landowners and mushroom collectors, as well as among collectors from different communities. Furthermore, in the long-term, unsustainable picking practices are threatening to have important negative impacts on the mushroom populations, affecting soil fertility, plant development, and the overall equilibrium of the natural ecosystems. A system was needed for regions like Valdorba that enables rural communities to achieve a sustainable balance between economic development on the one hand and, on the other, the protection of their mushrooms as a natural resource, as well as the related ecosystems and landscapes, be they natural or cultivated. Objectives The project sought to demonstrate the need and viability of a sustainable management for mycological (i.e. fungi) resources. The overall objective of the project was to establish an integrated management system for mushroom-producing ecosystems in the Valdorba region, promoting a responsible and sustainable use of mycological resources. The aim was to ensure the conservation and enhancement of the ecosystem’s biodiversity, while generating social and economic benefits for the region’s rural populations. A framework was to be established, for the integration and participation of the various socio-economic actors involved in the management of mycological resources, involving representatives of the rural population, from the processing and packaging industry, as well as the tourist and the forestry sector. The project involved the beneficiary and four partners: the Technological Forest Centre of Catalonia, Valladolid University, Orbalan S.L., and the “Trigo Limpio” Ecologic Agriculture Community. Results Manuals and guidelines were elaborated with sustainable management tools and methodologies, such as innovative mycological management plans, technical plans and forestry programmes. These integrated environmental and economic criteria to achieve a sustainable production of mushrooms. A draft proposal for local regulations controlling mushroom picking was drawn up, based on ecological criteria, but taking into account social and economic considerations. Guidelines were established for the ecological labelling of truffle and mushroom production at the European level. The project achieved high media coverage and an effective dissemination at local, regional and national levels. Numerous events were organised, including conferences, nine technical courses, tree planting days, and even cookery lessons. 250 landowners were informed through seminars, courses and visits. Though not originally foreseen, an annual truffle fair was brought to life and held twice, which proved very successful and effective in spreading the project’s results. The project created various development models for the sustainable use of mushrooms. One, the commercial model, was based on improving the production and sale of truffle and other mushrooms. The model, however, proved unviable due to the generally low productivity of the various mushroom species in the Valdorba area. A tourism-based model, on the other hand, proved suitable and successful. It included the creation of a series of six routes for mushroom collecting, and eco-tourism offers that combine accommodation, gastronomic offers focusing on mushrooms, courses and guided walks. It is estimated that the project contributed directly to a 30% increase in the project area’s hotel occupancy, with 500 visitors/year attributable to region’s mushrooms and truffles. The innovative aspect of the project lies precisely in the application of forestry practices and land management methods that combine the sustainable management of mycological resources with rural economical development. The development of tools aimed at integrating mycological resource management concerns into the official land-use policies and natural resources planning systems at local and county level is totally innovative. It is probable, that these documents, together with the mycological plan drawn up as part of the project, are the first official documents of their kind to be developed in all of Europe. In total, 72 ha of woodland were managed using forestry practices based on sustainable mycological resources management. 17 ha of land were reforested and mycorrhized trees planted. The technical team employed for the LIFE project is now considered a specialist reference team for mushroom-related project development, and is regularly requested to provide support and advice to other initiatives. The motivation of the local and regional governments was crucial to the projects success. Their support is reflected in the recent approval of a LEADER project, which seeks to continue the work started by the LIFE project. This project has been selected as one of the 21 "Best" LIFE Environment projects in 2005-2006


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