Special Issue "Non-Timber Forest Products and Bioeconomy: Management, Value Chains, Challenges and Opportunities"

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Economics, Policy, and Social Science".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Sergio De Miguel
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Crop and Forest Sciences, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center (UdL-Agrotecnio), Av. Rovira Roure, 191, E-25198, Lleida, Spain
Interests: multifunctionality of forest ecosystems, non-timber forest products, forest diversity and productivity, multiple ecosystem services, forest ecology and management planning
Dr. Charlie Shackleton
Website
Guest Editor
Dept of Environmental Science, Rhodes University, Makhanda, 6140, South Africa
Interests: non-timber forest products; rural livelihoods; urban forestry; multipurpose land use

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) may be defined as any product or provisioning ecosystem service other than commercial timber that is produced in natural and human dominated landscapes including forests and other vegetation formations. They include fruits and nuts, hypogeous and epigeous fungi, medicinal and aromatic plants, fish and game, vegetables, resins and essential oils, wood for carving, construction and energy, as well as a range of barks and fibers, such as cork, bamboo and rattans, among a number of other multi-purpose trees, palms and grasses. They have traditionally played a key role in human well-being through their contribution to livelihoods, trade, traditions and culture, and they are experiencing increasing importance in the diversification of the formal and informal forest-based bioeconomy across the globe. Thus, according to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005), there are more than 150 NTFPs internationally traded, in addition to a broad diversity of products of local importance. For instance, recent estimates of the total value of NTFPs in Europe amount to 2.27 billion Euro (State of Europe’s Forests 2015 Report), representing a significant proportion of the value of total roundwood removals (~10 %) that, moreover, may still be a considerable underestimation of their real value given the significant deficiencies concerning national statistics on NTFPs harvesting and trade. The production systems, management and value chains of NTFPs are framed within complex socio-ecological and socio-economic contexts at multiple scales, facing important challenges and opportunities that deserve attention to further understand the role of NTFPs in human well-being and bioeconomies, so that their full potential can be unlocked from the local to the global level in a changing world.

This Special Issue of Forests is focused on Non-Timber Forest Products, their production systems, management, value chains and their importance for well-being and bioeconomy, as well as on the challenges and opportunities concerning the diversification of the provisioning forest ecosystem services other than commercial timber and their impact on human development and well-being. Research articles may focus on any aspect explicitly dealing with NTFPs including also land-use and policy-making studies at multiple scales where NTFPs may play a key role combined with timber and other ecosystems services. Papers addressing the impact of global change on different NTFPs and value chains and their impact on future human well-being are encouraged. Excellent and thorough review papers synthesizing the state of the art of different aspects of the management, value chains and relevance of NTFPs are also welcome.

Dr. Sergio de Miguel
Prof. Dr. Charlie Shackleton
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Forests is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Non-timber forest products
  • Multi-purpose trees
  • Non-wood forest products
  • Human well-being
  • Provisioning forest ecosystem services
  • Multifunctionality
  • Management
  • Value chains

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Describing Medicinal Non-Timber Forest Product Trade in Eastern Deciduous Forests of the United States
Forests 2020, 11(4), 435; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11040435 - 12 Apr 2020
Abstract
Eastern deciduous forests in the United States have supplied marketable non-timber forest products (NTFP) since the 18th century. However, trade is still largely informal, and the market scope and structure are not well understood. One exception is American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.). [...] Read more.
Eastern deciduous forests in the United States have supplied marketable non-timber forest products (NTFP) since the 18th century. However, trade is still largely informal, and the market scope and structure are not well understood. One exception is American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.). Ginseng’s legal status as a threatened species requires that buyers apply for a license and keep sales records that are submitted to a state authority. Other marketable medicinal plants collected from the same forests, known colloquially as ‘off-roots’, are not similarly tracked. To study the characteristics of off-root trade in the eastern deciduous forests of the United States, registered ginseng buyers in 15 eastern states were surveyed in 2015 and 2016 about business attributes, purchase volume, and harvest distribution for 15 off-root species selected for their economic and conservation value. Buyers voluntarily reported harvesting 47 additional NTFP species. The most frequently purchased off-root species were the roots and rhizomes of two perennial understory plants: black cohosh (Actaea racemosa L.) and goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis L.). Survey data were used to develop a buyer typology and describe the off-root market structure and material sourcing. The buyer typology included four distinct categories: side or specialty (small); seasonal venture (medium); large integrated or dedicated business (large); and dedicated bulk enterprise (regional aggregator). Market activity was mapped across the study area, demonstrating that most off-root trade is concentrated in central Appalachia, an area with extensive forests and a struggling economy. Study methods and data improve non-timber forest product market insights, are useful for forest management, and can support efforts to advance sustainable NTFP supply chains. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Toward Decision-Making Support: Valuation and Mapping of New Management Scenarios for Tunisian Cork Oak Forests
Forests 2020, 11(2), 197; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11020197 - 11 Feb 2020
Abstract
Forest ecosystems are an important anthropogenic pillar to human wellbeing, providing a multitude of ecosystem services. In Mediterranean countries, where climate change effects are exponentially increasing, the value of the forest ecosystem services is even higher and their preservation is more crucial. However, [...] Read more.
Forest ecosystems are an important anthropogenic pillar to human wellbeing, providing a multitude of ecosystem services. In Mediterranean countries, where climate change effects are exponentially increasing, the value of the forest ecosystem services is even higher and their preservation is more crucial. However, the biophysical and economic value of such services is usually not observable due to their non-marketable characteristics, leading to their underestimation by decision-makers. This paper aims to guide decision-making through a set of new management scenarios based on ecosystem services’ values and their spatial distribution. It is a cumulative multidisciplinary study based on biophysical models results, economically valued and implemented using the geographic information system (GIS) to analyze spatial data. The investigation was based on a biophysical and economic valuation of cork, grazing, carbon sequestration and sediment retention as a selection of ecosystem services provided by cork oak forest (Ain Snoussi, Tunisia). The valuation was made for the actual situation and two management scenarios (density decrease and afforestation of the shrub land), with emphasis on their spatial distribution as a basis to new management. The total economic value (TEV) of the investigated services provided by Ain Snoussi forest (3787 ha) was €0.55 million/year corresponding to €194/ha/year. The assessment of two different scenarios based on the land cover changes showed that the afforestation scenario provided the highest TEV with €0.68 million/year and an average of €217/ha, while the density decrease scenario provided €0.54 million/year and an average of €191/ha. Such results may orient decision-makers about the impact new management may have, however they should be applied with caution and wariness due to the importance of the spatial dimension in this study. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Projecting Medicinal Plant Trade Volume and Value in Deciduous Forests of the Eastern United States
Forests 2020, 11(1), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11010074 - 07 Jan 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The volume, value and distribution of the nontimber forest product (NTFP) trade in the United States are largely unknown. This is due to the lack of systematic, periodic and comprehensive market tracking programs. Trade measurement and mapping would allow market actors and stakeholders [...] Read more.
The volume, value and distribution of the nontimber forest product (NTFP) trade in the United States are largely unknown. This is due to the lack of systematic, periodic and comprehensive market tracking programs. Trade measurement and mapping would allow market actors and stakeholders to improve market conditions, manage NTFP resources, and increase the sustainable production of raw material. This is especially true in the heavily forested and mountainous regions of the eastern United States. This study hypothesized that the tendency to purchase medicinal NTFPs in this region can be predicted using socioeconomic and environmental variables associated with habitat and trade, and those same variables can be used to build more robust estimates of trade volume. American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) dealers were surveyed (n = 700), because by law they must acquire a license to legally trade in this species, and therefore report a business address. They also record purchase data. Similar data are not reported for other medicinal species sold to the same buyers, known colloquially as ‘off-roots’. Ginseng buyers were queried about trade activity in eleven commonly-harvested and previously untracked medicinal NTFP species in 15 states. Multinomial logistic regression comprised of socioeconomic and environmental predictors tied to business location was used to determine the probability that a respondent purchased off-roots. Significant predictors included location in a particular subregion, population and percentage of employment in related industries. These variables were used in a two-step cluster analysis to group respondents and nonrespondents. Modeled probabilities for off-root purchasing among respondents in each cluster were used to impute average off-root volumes for a proportion of nonrespondents in the same cluster. Respondent observations and nonrespondent estimations were summed and used to map off-root trade volume and value. Model functionality and estimates of the total volume, value and spatial distribution are discussed. The total value of the species surveyed to harvesters was 4.3 million USD. We also find that 77 percent of the trade value and 73 percent of the trade volume were represented by two species: black cohosh (Actaea racemosa L.) and goldenseal (Hydrastis canqdensis L.) Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Harvesting and Local Knowledge of a Cultural Non-Timber Forest Product (NTFP): Gum-Resin from Boswellia serrata Roxb. in Three Protected Areas of the Western Ghats, India
Forests 2019, 10(10), 907; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10100907 - 15 Oct 2019
Abstract
Soliga tribes in the Western Ghats, India harvest some NTFPs (non-timber forest products) for religious purposes. They extract gum-resin from Boswellia serrata Roxb. in Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Tiger Reserve (BRT), Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary (CWS), and Malai Mahadeshwara Wildlife Sanctuary (MMH) in the state [...] Read more.
Soliga tribes in the Western Ghats, India harvest some NTFPs (non-timber forest products) for religious purposes. They extract gum-resin from Boswellia serrata Roxb. in Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Tiger Reserve (BRT), Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary (CWS), and Malai Mahadeshwara Wildlife Sanctuary (MMH) in the state of Karnataka, India. They use gum-resin as a cultural offering to the deities in the temples in these study sites and in their households. The traditional harvesting practices adopted by the Soliga tribes in these protected areas, types of gum-resin extracted, and the nature of the extraction processes were examined. The research undertook 346 household surveys with gum-resin harvesters and non-harvesters across 15 villages, along with 60 field trips with the harvesters, during which field harvesting activities and practices were noted. Six different types of gum-resin were harvested, with marked differences between the three sites. Because of the different types of gum-resin, the quantities harvested were also significantly different between sites. Approximately 80% of the harvesters were aware of some harmful methods of harvesting gum-resin, and some harvesters highlighted that B. serrata trees would yield gum-resin only when damaged. Such damage could be human-made or through the effects of elephants, wind, Trigona honey harvest, deer horns or body rubbing and longhorn beetles. Most (81%) of the non-harvesters surveyed previously practiced gum-resin harvesting but had ceased for a variety of reasons, mostly because of insufficient demand and hence income from the sale of gum-resin, insufficient supply, or fear of wild animals in the forests. Considering these cultural practices, experiences, and beliefs of the Soliga communities can help inform management plans and conservation of the species in its natural habitat. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Non-Timber Forest Products Collection Affects Education of Children in Forest Proximate Communities in Northeastern Pakistan
Forests 2019, 10(9), 813; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10090813 - 18 Sep 2019
Abstract
Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) are crucial in driving the economy of communities living inside or around forests. The scarcity of business and employment opportunities often push the forest proximate communities to tap a range of NTFPs for earning their livelihoods. In many forest-based [...] Read more.
Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) are crucial in driving the economy of communities living inside or around forests. The scarcity of business and employment opportunities often push the forest proximate communities to tap a range of NTFPs for earning their livelihoods. In many forest-based communities around the world, children are actively involved in NTFPs collection, which is likely to affect the socioeconomic paradigms of these children. We aim to investigate how the NTFP collection venture affects the education of the children involved in the forest proximate communities of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Pakistan. A stratified sampling followed by a series of focus group discussions and one-to-one interviews were carried out to collect information on collection behaviour, patterns, income generation, and other socioeconomic variables. We used a binary logistic regression model to explain children’s state of attending schools using a range of socioeconomic variables. The empirical evidence showed that 42% of the NTFP-collecting children were not going to school, and nearly two-thirds were working in unfavourable working environments. The regression model showed that the role and behaviour of contractors, along with factors like household conditions, were important factors in employing children for long working hours. The study has implications for reforming policies regarding the nexus of income generation and education in the forest-based communities. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Climatic and Economic Factors Affecting the Annual Supply of Wild Edible Mushrooms and Berries in Finland
Forests 2019, 10(5), 385; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10050385 - 30 Apr 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Finnish non-timber forest products (NTFPs) are valued on the national and international markets. Yet, the annual marketed quantities vary considerably, causing instability in supply chains. Thus, climatic and economic factors affecting the annually aggregated supply of top-marketed mushrooms (ceps, milk caps, and chanterelle) [...] Read more.
Finnish non-timber forest products (NTFPs) are valued on the national and international markets. Yet, the annual marketed quantities vary considerably, causing instability in supply chains. Thus, climatic and economic factors affecting the annually aggregated supply of top-marketed mushrooms (ceps, milk caps, and chanterelle) and berries (bilberry, cowberry, and cloudberry) in Finland were studied. Data on mushroom and berry market prices (€/kg) and quantities (kg) were obtained from the statistics on annual quantities of berries and mushrooms bought by organized trade and industry in Finland (1978–2016). The species-specific supply functions were described as linear regression models, where annually aggregated quantities were predicted as a function of climatic and economic variables. Our results suggested that climatic variables influenced the marketed quantities of NTFPs through the biological yields of berries and mushrooms, and that the market price had a negative effect on the marketed quantities of ceps, milk caps, and berries. The markets for NTFPs have become more international at the second half of the study period (1999–2016), modifying the price-quantity relationships of ceps, milk caps and cloudberries. Additionally, the number of visas issued to Thai pickers increased the marketed quantities of bilberries and cowberries. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Are Wildfires a Threat to Fungi in European Pinus Forests? A Case Study of Boreal and Mediterranean Forests
Forests 2019, 10(4), 309; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10040309 - 04 Apr 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Natural forests and plantations of Pinus are ecologically and economically important worldwide, producing an array of goods and services, including the provision of non-wood forest products. Pinus species play an important role in Mediterranean and boreal forests. Although Pinus species seem to show [...] Read more.
Natural forests and plantations of Pinus are ecologically and economically important worldwide, producing an array of goods and services, including the provision of non-wood forest products. Pinus species play an important role in Mediterranean and boreal forests. Although Pinus species seem to show an ecological adaptation to recurrent wildfires, a new era of mega fires is predicted, owing to climate changes associated with global warming. As a consequence, fungal communities, which are key players in forest ecosystems, could be strongly affected by these wildfires. The aim of this study was to observe the fungal community dynamics, and particularly the edible fungi, in maritime (Pinus pinaster Ait.), austrian pine (Pinus nigra J.F. Arnold), and scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) forests growing under wet Mediterranean, dry Mediterranean, and boreal climatic conditions, respectively, by comparing the mushrooms produced in severely burned Pinus forests in each area. Sporocarps were collected during the main sampling campaigns in non-burned plots, and in burned plots one year and five years after fire. A total of 182 taxa, belonging to 81 genera, were collected from the sampled plots, indicating a high level of fungal diversity in these pine forests, independent of the climatic conditions. The composition of the fungal communities was strongly affected by wildfire. Mycorrhizal taxa were impacted more severely by wildfire than the saprotrophic taxa, particularly in boreal forests—no mycorrhizal taxa were observed in the year following fire in boreal forests. Based on our observations, it seems that fungal communities of boreal P. sylvestris forests are not as adapted to high-intensity fires as the Mediterranean fungal communities of P. nigra and P. pinaster forests. This will have an impact on reducing fungal diversity and potential incomes in rural economically depressed areas that depend on income from foraged edible fungi, one of the most important non-wood forest products. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Predicting Mushroom Productivity from Long-Term Field-Data Series in Mediterranean Pinus pinaster Ait. Forests in the Context of Climate Change
Forests 2019, 10(3), 206; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10030206 - 26 Feb 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
Long-term field-data series were used to fit a mushroom productivity model. Simulations enabled us to predict the consequences of management and climate scenarios on potential mushroom productivity. Mushrooms play an important ecological and economic role in forest ecosystems. Human interest in collecting mushrooms [...] Read more.
Long-term field-data series were used to fit a mushroom productivity model. Simulations enabled us to predict the consequences of management and climate scenarios on potential mushroom productivity. Mushrooms play an important ecological and economic role in forest ecosystems. Human interest in collecting mushrooms for self-consumption is also increasing, giving forests added value for providing recreational services. Pinus pinaster Ait. is a western Mediterranean species of great economic and ecological value. Over 7.5% of the total European distribution of the species is found on the Castilian Plateau in central Spain, where a great variety of mushrooms can be harvested. The aim of this study was to model and simulate mushroom productivity in Maritime pine (Pinus pinaster Ait.) ecosystems in northern Spain under different silvicultural and climatic scenarios. A mixed model was fitted that related total mushroom productivity to stand and weather variables. The model was uploaded to the SiManFor platform to study the effect of different silvicultural and climatic scenarios on mushroom productivity. The selected independent variables in the model were the ratio between stand basal area and density as a stand management indicator, along with precipitation and average temperatures for September and November. The simulation results also showed that silviculture had a positive impact on mushroom productivity, which was higher in scenarios with moderate and high thinning intensities. The impact was highly positive in wetter scenarios, though only slightly positive and negative responses were observed in hotter and drier scenarios, respectively. Silviculture had a positive impact on mushroom productivity, especially in wetter scenarios. Precipitation had greater influence than temperature on total mushroom productivity in Maritime pine stands. The results of this paper will enable forest managers to develop optimal management approaches for P. pinaster forests that integrate Non-Wood Forest Products resources. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
The Processing of Non-Timber Forest Products through Small and Medium Enterprises—A Review of Enabling and Constraining Factors
Forests 2019, 10(11), 1026; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10111026 - 14 Nov 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
Research Highlights: This study reviews the available literature on processed non-timber forest products (NTFPs) in order to comprehensively identify relevant factors enabling or constraining their potential to contribute to rural development. Background and Objectives: NTFPs, such as wild foods, medicinal plants, and raw [...] Read more.
Research Highlights: This study reviews the available literature on processed non-timber forest products (NTFPs) in order to comprehensively identify relevant factors enabling or constraining their potential to contribute to rural development. Background and Objectives: NTFPs, such as wild foods, medicinal plants, and raw materials for handicrafts, make significant contributions to rural livelihoods. NTFPs can help fulfil households’ subsistence and consumption needs, serve as a safety-net in times of crises, and provide cash income. In particular, the processing of NTFPs has often been suggested to positively influence sustainable economic development in rural areas. However, despite rising interest and recognition of the potential contributions of such industries as key sources of employment and their strategic role in overall growth strategies of developing countries, many NTFP processing enterprises remain in the informal sector and an in-depth understanding of the underlying factors is lacking. This review aims to identify enabling and constraining factors affecting NTFP processing enterprises. Materials and Methods: Using systematic review methodology, studies investigating commercialized, processed NTFPs and their economic impacts have been identified and the current evidence base with regard to NTFP processing and small and medium sized enterprise (SME) development synthesized. Results: Despite the diverse nature of NTFPs, a number of constraining and enabling factors affecting NTFP processing and commercialization were identified. The former includes aspects such as the lack of resource access (finances, skills, technologies, etc.), market information, and basic infrastructure; the latter, amongst others, the role of key entrepreneurs; and cooperation across the value chain, amongst producers, and among members of the institutional environment or an abundant resource base. Moving from small-scale NTFP commercialization in local markets to more mature NTFP value chains reaching export markets, the increasing role of cooperation and having a supportive institutional framework in place, becomes apparent. Conclusions: Overall, successful NTFP processing strongly depends on the socio-economic and environmental context in question, requiring a holistic approach tailored to the respective context and value chain. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Wild Edible Fruits: A Systematic Review of an Under-Researched Multifunctional NTFP (Non-Timber Forest Product)
Forests 2019, 10(6), 467; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10060467 - 29 May 2019
Cited by 9
Abstract
Wild edible fruits (WEFs) are among the most widely used non-timber forest products (NTFPs), and important sources of nutrition, medicine, and income for their users. In addition to their use as food, WEF species may also yield fiber, fuel, and a range of [...] Read more.
Wild edible fruits (WEFs) are among the most widely used non-timber forest products (NTFPs), and important sources of nutrition, medicine, and income for their users. In addition to their use as food, WEF species may also yield fiber, fuel, and a range of processed products. Besides forests, WEF species also thrive in diverse environments, such as agroforestry and urban landscapes, deserts, fallows, natural lands, and plantations. Given the multifunctional, ubiquitous nature of WEFs, we conducted a systematic review on the literature specific to WEFs and highlighted links between different domains of the wider knowledge on NTFPs. We found that literature specific to WEFs was limited, and a majority of it reported ethnobotanical and taxonomic descriptions, with relatively few studies on landscape ecology, economics, and conservation of WEFs. Our review identifies priorities and emerging avenues for research and policymaking to promote sustainable WEF management and use, and subsequent biodiversity and habitat conservation. In particular, we recommend that ecosystem services, economic incentives, market innovations, and stakeholder synergies are incorporated into WEF conservation strategies. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Climate Change Impacts on Pinus pinea L. Silvicultural System for Cone Production and Ways to Contour Those Impacts: A Review Complemented with Data from Permanent Plots
Forests 2019, 10(2), 169; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10020169 - 16 Feb 2019
Cited by 6
Abstract
Umbrella pine (Pinus pinea L.) cones take three years to develop. With the increasing frequency of extreme droughts, water available for trees has decreased—climate change is a reality. The cone’s survival in its first two years of development and the average cone [...] Read more.
Umbrella pine (Pinus pinea L.) cones take three years to develop. With the increasing frequency of extreme droughts, water available for trees has decreased—climate change is a reality. The cone’s survival in its first two years of development and the average cone weight during its last year of maturation is affected, thus, reducing kernel quantity and quality. Climate change has resulted in forest fires becoming an inescapable issue in forest management planning. A literature review was carried out, focusing, on one hand, the predicted climatic changes for the Mediterranean basin and, on the other hand, the umbrella pine silvicultural mechanisms at tree, stand, and landscape levels that may help to face these constraints. Finally, the Portuguese case was focused, describing the management practices that are being adopted to achieve, even when the period of cone formation and growth include dry years, one to six tons of cones per hectare per year in adult stands. Full article
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