Landscape stewardship and hunting, angling and gathering wild products

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Around ten thousand years ago, people around the globe began domesticating plants and animals. People initiated selective harvesting of plants with convenient features, such as providing large fruits or having pulses that don’t open up too easily, started systematic planting, manuring and watering (Fresco 2012). This slowly provided people with a stable food supply - people moved away from hunter-gatherers towards a sedentary lifestyle. During this ten-thousand-year process, the importance of food collected from the wild continuously decreased. Cultivation allowed for better quality control, closer distance to places where food was to be collected and higher yields, leading to lower time investment for food acquisition (Schulp et al. 2014a). Nevertheless, gathered wild edible plants, mushrooms, fish and game continued to contribute to people’s diet (Turner et al. 2011). Collecting wild food has been a necessity throughout Europe up to the Second World War for ensuring a varied diet with sufficient variation and vitamins and to collect herbs to conserve food (Schulp et al. 2014a). During times of famine or war, wild food remained a necessary source of nutrients up to the 1990s, e.g. during the Spanish Civil War (Menendez-Baceta et al. 2012) or the siege of Sarajevo (Redzic 2010). Nowadays, in at least seventeen European countries, a wide variety of plants, mushrooms and game is still collected from the wild for consumption (Schulp et al. 2014a). ‘Wild’ refers to species that are not cultivated. For plants and mushrooms, this mainly includes native species that grow in their natural habitat or in semi-natural, recently abandoned or other rural habitats or urban areas (Poe et al. 2013). Wild food gatherers and local land managers change the land cover, land use or landscape structure through gathering or to facilitate gathering. At the same time, the landscape is an important factor enabling wild food gathering (Schulp et al. 2014a). Wild food gathering and consumption connects people to the landscape in an implicit way and makes them aware of the landscape functioning. The act of gathering wild food and landscape management activities thus can be considered landscape stewardship. Over the past three decades, researchers observed two diverging trends on wild food gathering and related landscape stewardship. On the one hand, traditional wild food gathering practices are eroding, potentially leading to a loss of traditional knowledge on wild food products (Pardo-de-Santayana et al. 2007).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe science and practice of landscape stewardship
EditorsC. Bieling, T. Plieninger
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781316499016
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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