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Short Form: Traditional and wild
Full name: Promoting traditional collection and use of wild plants to reduce social and economic disparities in Central Europe
Priority: Competitiveness
Area of Intervention: 4.3 Capitalising on Cultural Resources for More Attractive Cities and Regions
Duration: May 2011 – April 2014 (36 months)
Total budget:
ERDF contribution:
€ 1.171.810,00
€ 996.038,50

Corvinus University of Budapest (Kozep-Magyarorszag, HU), WWF WORLD WIDE FUND FOR NATURE Hungary (Kozep-Magyarorszag, HU), Village Local Authority Kunadacs (Del-Alfold, HU), South-Transdanubian Regional Resource Centre Nonprofit LTD (Del-Dunantul, HU), Association for Development and Promotion of Podkarpackie Voivodeship “PRO CARPATHIA” (Podkarpackie, PL), Development Agency Kozjansko (Slovenija, SI), Institution Fundation BIT Planota (Slovenija, SI), Mendel University in Brno (Jihovychod, CZ), Regional Agrarian Chamber of The South Moravian Region Brno (Jihovychod, CZ)

Lead partner: Corvinus University of Budapest (Kozep-Magyarorszag, HU)
Lead partner country: Hungary



Traditional and wild – Description
Plants and herbs have been used as a medicine since ancient times in pretty much every culture. Collecting these plants however requires certain degree of knowledge, as the collector needs to be able to identify herbs correctly, and also know where to find them. This knowledge was often passed down from generation to generation. Today, and since the middle of the 20th century, due to urbanization, changes in land ownership and lifestyle this traditional knowledge is unfortunately being lost. Plant collection that does take place is done in an unsustainable manner leading to the decline of a key employment for vulnerable groups as it is often an important source of additional income for the Roma ethnic minority, women and the elderly.

Central Europe used to be and still is among the main exporters of products originating from plants – e.g. medicinal and spice plants – to processors in Western Europe. Wild collection represents 30-40% of medicinal drug production. In Europe it is estimated that about 2000 plants are traded commercially, of which 60-70% are natives. Up to 90% of these species are still collected from the wild. These plants constitute an important market and an important genetic base for many essential drugs. With continued growth in this sector, it is important for the countries of Central Europe to join forces to develop a coherent approach to plant supply in order to ensure that this demand does not exhaust natural stocks and the traditional knowledge base is preserved. The goal of Traditional and Wild is to protect and share this declining cultural heritage and also to improve livelihoods of vulnerable groups in rural parts of Central Europe.


Traditional and wild – Objectives
The income and employment gap between rural and urban regions in Central Europe is very large, with unemployment sometimes reaching up to double the national average in rural areas. Demographic and land use changes in the second half of the 20th century have meant that less people remain in the rural areas, and those that do are often less skilled. The project’s objective is to offer alternative source of income for these people, encourage them not to leave the region and therefore contribute to the better quality and attractiveness of villages and their surroundings.

The specific objective is to implement a pilot model by year 2012 that is socially and culturally acceptable, economically-sound and environmentally viable for the collection of wild plants, their processing and use. This model shall provide a sustainable source of income to vulnerable groups in selected areas of Central Europe states. By reducing the negative effects of economic and social change the project will also support the competitiveness of the cooperation area. Transferable tool for the collection of plants and primary processing will be adapted in all of Central Europe and beyond and the cultural traditions of collection including knowledge about plants which are at risk of being lost will be preserved.


Traditional and wild – Expected Result
Expected results include among others improved employment options for vulnerable groups in target regions and a better capacity among target groups to sustainably collect and process plants, as well as a sustainable approach to plant use. These results will be achieved through the development of a strategy and action plan on employment and reducing the social disparities between populations in marginalized rural areas of Central Europe, which will include an analysis of the regions, employment opportunities, major partnerships to be established, and recommendations for implementation (for example, the development of training materials, collecting data, etc.). This strategy will end in a transnational model, an ethnobotanical study and training materials, which will be the base for the training of around 200 people in traditional plant collection and demonstration installations.


Traditional and wild – Activities
Summary of activities:
The aim of Traditional and wild project is to protect, collect and share the declining cultural heritage on traditional use of the wild growing plants. Maintenance and updating of the collection activity would contribute to the improvement of livelihoods of vulnerable groups in rural parts of Central Europe. The project started the last 6 months of implementation.

A comprehensive Socio-economic analysis discussed at a workshop in Sep. 2012 in Brno shows the demographic and economic situation in the target areas. According to experiences, collection of wild plants may assure economic value however, local people should be motivated. Training materials on traditional use, written and unwritten rules of collection, national and international regulations, sustainable practices of harvesting and processing of plants were developed and published. Several trainings were organized as the implementation of this new tool. Database about the promising wild plants in the project implementation region was developed.

Market and income generation strategy was developed for the target regions. The results were introduced in Lokve, October 2013. The study based on personal interviewing it will help evaluating of market possibilities and customs. This study would support target people reaching market facilities, creating realistic business plans.

While using natural resources, sustainability must not be neglected. The results of resource assessments were elaborated and discussed in October 2012 in Lokve. Besides, offering a model for establishing long term utilization of natural vegetation, they serve as basis of further activities in income generation.

A Capacity-building strategy including methods of data analysis, mapping of intellectual and natural capacities, personal potentials in target region, describing the way of identification of needs for training and partnership building represent the first comprehensive transnational guideline.

Main goals of the project include collection of ethnobotanical knowledge of local populations to detect if people are aware of the treasures of nature. Summary of the regions results were developed. According to data obtained a significant interests both of elderly and young was experienced, however, new information from media seems frequently to overcome traditions. Toolbox will be a useful tool where the most important information, links and regulations are collected about the wild plant collection (Link: whygowild.com).

Exhibition sites contribute to raising awareness of people on cultural heritage about plants and teach them to benefit from the traditions. A folklore house has been opened in Kunadacs, Hungary, in October 2012 while exhibition room about religious and superstitious aspects of wild plans has been opened in the Open Air Museum in Kolbuszowa, Poland. Plant dryer has been chosen and installed in Lednice, Czech Republic. Herbal gardens have already been created in Slovenia.