New value chains from multi-functional forests

EIP workshop in Vienna - group discussions at tables, copyright EIP-AGRI
Mike Strachan, Forestry Commission Scotland

Mike Strachan from Forestry Commission Scotland reports on the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) workshop on 'New value chains from multi-functional forests held in Vienna on 10 and 11 November 2016.

The European Innovation Partnership (EIP) aims to bridge the gap between Research and Practice in Agriculture, Food and Forestry across Europe.  I was fortunate to be invited to attend the workshop in Vienna where I helped to lead discussions on the role of Agroforestry in supporting value chains. Eighty participants from 21 countries attended.

An important objective of the workshop was to promote and inform about the EIP operational groups and the opportunity to fund new research projects in collaboration with farmers. 

The aim of the workshop was to present existing examples and explore opportunities for developing innovative value chains of forest products and services which are currently underused. At the workshop there were several poster presentations of best practices that can see on the EIP AGRI website.

The first part of the workshop (80 participants from 21 countries) focused on a review of the existing 'gaps'; the under-used value chains and possible new innovation ideas. The second and main part of the workshop split those attending into four thematic groups – Wild food, Non-food, Agroforestry and Recreation and Tourism.

In our Agroforestry group, our discussions ranged from European Union guidance, Member State inclusion of the measures, variety of the potential opportunities, the need for dissemination of research findings, difficulties with rurality and marketing, collaboration and lack of understanding of the terminology.

EIP operational groups are made up of people with different skills and backgrounds who have come together to address a specific practical problem or an idea/opportunity that can lead to innovation and contribute to achieving the program objectives. Each Member State decides on their priorities for supporting innovation projects through rural development programmes. 

Information on existing operational groups and research projects can be found here:

Since attending the workshop, I have been following up my contacts across Europe to see how best to work together on this and have also advised a farmer to take his innovation idea (not forestry related) to the EIP-AGRI service desk seeking support.