Wild food in Europe: a synthesis of knowledge and data of terrestrial wild food as an ecosystem service

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    Wild food is an iconic ecosystem service that receives little attention in quantifying, valuating and mapping studies, due to the perceived low importance or due to lack of data. Here, we synthesize available data on the importance of wild food as ecosystem service, its spatial distribution and relations between supply, demand and benefits in the European Union (EU), covering all terrestrial wild food groups. A wide variety of game (38 species), mushrooms (27 species) and vascular plants (81 species) is collected and consumed throughout the EU. Income, age, gender, possibilities for collecting, and cultural factors explain the importance of wild food. While the economic and nutritional values of wild food comprise a few thousands of the GDP or total consumption, over 100. million EU citizens consume wild food. Collecting wild food is an appreciated recreational activity; collecting and consuming wild food provide important cultural ecosystem services, including recreation and sense of place. Because of these benefits, wild food should be included in EU ecosystem service assessments. Better estimates could be made if better data on wild food abundance and production are available and by systematic inventories of participation in wild food collecting. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)292-305
    JournalEcological Economics
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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