Special Issue "Food Tree Species: Nutritional Value, Livelihood Benefits, Threats and Conservation Aspects"
Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 November 2019
Dietary risk factors constitute 6 of the 10 main causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. The top dietary risk factors are the low intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Poor diet quality contributes to stunting in children under five years of age, micronutrient deficiencies, overweight/obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases. Poor quality diets that lack diversity are a critical issue, particularly in the developing world, where diets often consist of starchy staples with a minimal addition of nutrient-rich foods, such as dairy, eggs, meat, fruit and vegetables.
There is growing evidence that forest foods (the edible parts of food tree species such as leaves, fruits, nuts, seeds, flowers, etc.) have the potential to increase the nutritional quality of rural diets and play a crucial role during periods of food shortage. They supply essential micronutrients to otherwise monotonous diets and some tree products are stored (dried, fermented, etc.) for later consumption, thereby securing a year-round supply of the much-needed nutrients. However, a considerable number of food tree species are underutilized and inadequately characterized. High quality data on the nutrient content of the fruits of many indigenous food tree species are still unavailable or unreliable.
Traditional knowledge on how to manage food tree species, harvest, store, prepare and consume forest foods is rapidly being lost due to increasing globalization and access to convenient, less diverse, processed foods, based on a narrow genetic base, usually high in calories and low in other essential nutrients. Despite increasing research efforts that illustrate the nutritional and livelihood benefits of many food tree species, there is a lack of cost effective policies and interventions targeting the promotion of trees for their contribution to dietary diversity, nutrition and health.
Food tree species have been used for generations and commonly have social and cultural importance. Knowledge regarding their identification, preparation and sustainable management is part of a system of gender-specific practices developed and refined over time. Understanding how food tree species contribute to livelihoods, particularly of marginalized and food insecure groups, and how tree tenure and governance evolve in different contexts, has crucial implications for decision-making with respect to local food production, human health and the management of natural resources. Examining successful cases of enhanced livelihoods through the contribution of food tree species offers interesting opportunities for upscaling.
The current global call to restore degraded and deforested lands offers significant prospects for mainstreaming a diverse set of food tree species in degraded landscapes, but there is a need to collect successful incipient experiences to be able to disseminate best practices on how to appropriately incorporate food tree species in forest restoration plans.
In contexts characterized by limited resources and pressure on forest ecosystems, food tree species are under threat due to overexploitation or habitat change. Safeguarding measures for the conservation and sustainable management of tree diversity should be based on understanding the spatial distribution of intraspecific diversity of these species, which is in many cases poorly known. Moreover, especially in the case of important commercial fruit tree species, safeguarding their wild relatives is crucial to securing adaptation to future conditions.
In this Special Issue, we invite contributions from experts across multiple disciplines, covering a spectrum of research experiences from different geographic contexts to explore the following aspects:
- Food composition: characterization of nutritional properties of food tree species;
- Food technology: traditional or innovative new recipes based on forest foods to improve dietary quality
- Behaviour change communication: promotion of forest foods for better nutrition
- Characterization of the intraspecific diversity of food tree species as a basis for supporting conservation
- Analysis of the social, economic, and cultural importance of food tree species, particularly for marginalized groups;
- Gendered knowledge and management of food trees along the farm–forest continuum
- Threat analysis and sustainable harvest of forest foods
- Integration of food tree species into restoration efforts: models and case studies
Dr. Barbara Vinceti
Dr. Marlène Elias
Dr. Céline Termote
Mrs. Gennifer Meldrum
Manuscript Submission Information
Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.
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.