A model for Asia's mushroom industry.
Forest-gathered mushrooms provide a key source of income for rural households, and indigenous peoples around the world. But over-harvesting and environmental degradation are leading to lower production and the loss of some unique varieties – not to mention their potential uses in medicine, agriculture and industry.
To find ways to manage the wild mushroom industry more sustainably, ICRAF and the Kunming Institute of Botany worked with local communities to document problems and best practices. They came up with a strategy for sustainable mushroom management that includes defining clear boundaries for mushroom collection, simple fencing, setting up rules such as closing hillsides every 10 days to allow re-growth, and establishing a mushroom association in each village.
The result? A increase of 46% in production and 83% in household cash income compared to the period before special management practices were used. One county applied this model to nearly 4,460 hectares of forestland, generating a revenue of about USD 2 million. And the provincial government aims to scale up adoption of this approach and further invest in participatory action research.
The partnership is investigating ways to expand the community-based model to neighboring regions, especially in Southeast Asia, and build similarly lucrative and forest-protecting wild mushroom industries.