Dewis Gwyllt

A three year project to test whether wild woodland resources can help support community woodlands.

Could Non Timber Products Fund Community Woodland Enterprises ?

Dewis Gwyllt (Wild Choice) is a project funded by the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Welsh Government. Its aim is to look at the feasibility and development of environmentally sustainable, socially motivated supply chains for wild woodland resources in the Welsh economy.  When we talk about wild woodland resources, we mean products that can be harvested from woodlands that are not timber, for example wild garlic or bilberry.

The Dewis Gwyllt project has developed from Llais y Goedwigs’ participation in the ‘Startree’ Project that ran from 2012 until 2016. Startree was a European level project looking at the potential for Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFP) to contribute to rural development in 14 regions of Europe. In Wales, we discovered that there are enterprises selling products that use wild ingredients (e.g. Purple Moose and cottage-scale soap and jam producers), but there are few or no recognised supply chains or networks to join up woodland owners and managers who may have harvestable resources, with producers who could use them.

Using the evidence from Startree, the premise of Dewis Gwyllt is to explore the creation of supply chains for wild harvested woodland products in Wales, in order to resolve the unsatisfied demand for wild ingredients at one end, alongside the need for small woodland owners to be able to diversify and produce income from the range of products that their woodlands have to offer.

Dewis Gwyllt is a three-year project that began in January. During 2019 we’ll be setting up test sites for harvesting birch and sycamore sap, wild garlic, elderflower, bilberry and sloe within community woodland sites across Wales.  In years two and three we will be concentrating on research into markets for these products including their marketing and sales.

For the supply chains to work, we need to ensure that the wild products collected are legally and sustainably harvested.  So, we’ll also be developing codes of conduct for harvesting products. The codes will include protocols for legal access to the resources, assessing stocks within a harvesting area, setting yields and monitoring harvesting impacts. They will  all be formulated to meet certification requirements.

We’ll also be learning from good practice and experience in Wales, the UK and across Europe, with desk based and practical research and visits.

Our aim beyond Dewis Gwyllt is to form a social enterprise that will provide a network hub for a wild woodland product supply chains in Wales.  The opportunity will be open to other third sector organisations, woodland owners, enterprises and individuals in the rural economy as a platform to diversify their income.

Dewis Gwyllt is a great way for LlyG to support community woodlands by supplementing their incomes or to generate new revenue in a small but reliable way, using resources already growing in their woods.

 

So how can woodland groups get involved?

  • Join the dedicated Dewis Gwyllt Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/Dewis-Gwyllt and Twitter feed @DewisGwyllt and Instagram @dewisgwyllt where we’ll be keeping you up to date with progress and plans, as well as knowledge sharing and training events.
  • Does your community woodland have potential for harvesting wild resources?  Particularly mature birch or sycamore, wild garlic, elderflower, bilberry or sloe. If so, and you would like to find out more and be part of the project get in touch with Maria Wilding, the project coordinator. maria.wilding@laisygoedwig.org.uk
  • Have another resource or marketable product? let us know about other products and resources, we need to know what you have so we can look at potential markets for it.
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