Posts Food, Forestry

The cultivation of forest berries and mushrooms alongside wood production will improve Finland’s position in the natural product market.

Demand for natural products is high around the world, especially in Asia where many types of natural products are considered not only to be healthy but also to have medicinal properties.

Finnish natural products have a good chance of being successful in the market, because the products are associated with excellent nutritional value, cleanness, reliable origin and reliable delivery.

“Many forests in the north of Finland have received a certificate as areas where products harvested are organic. This could be applied to up to 93 per cent of Finnish forests. Having the “organic” stamp on a product is another way of increasing sales,” says Senior Research Scientist Henri Vanhanen of Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).

Deliveries to the market cannot have breaks.

“One solution to this would be berry and mushroom farming or forest farming. Forest farming refers to methods that boost growth in the plants’ natural habitat. It is possible to engage in forest farming in various stages of the forest cycle without damaging wood production,” says Mr Vanhanen.

“Pollination services have increased berry harvests considerably. This means taking hives used by solitary bees and honeybees in the vicinity of good blueberry areas before they begin to blossom.”

 Product development at its best: chaga mushroom tea can fetch up to 960 euros per kilogramme. (photo: Veera Tahvanainen / Luke)
Product development at its best: chaga mushroom tea can fetch up to 960 euros per kilogramme. (photo: Veera Tahvanainen / Luke)

According to Vanhanen, special wild mushrooms are practically not utilised at all, although their value in the world market rises to tens of billions of euros.

Asia in particular is keen on them, because mushrooms are considered to have medicinal properties.

Such special mushrooms include chaga mushrooms and lingzhi mushrooms. Chaga mushroom tea, for example, may costs up to 960 euros per kilogramme.

Chaga mushrooms can be grown on living trees, and lingzhi mushrooms on dead trees, such as tree stumps. Both can be grown alongside wood production.

“And what’s best, neither mushroom requires major investments,” says Vanhanen.

As to the edible mushrooms, the growth of oyster mushrooms and smoky-gilled wood lovers in forests is currently being studied. They are introduced into tree stumps and fallen logs, and the objective is to create extensive and systematic production.

Edible mushrooms are not only intended for export, they are also seen as an excellent opportunity to increase Finland’s self-sufficiency in protein production.

 

Published on the Science page of Maaseudun Tulevaisuus newspaper on 16 May 2016.

Author: Sinikka Jortikka