The European black truffle is a mycorrhizal fungus native to Spanish Mediterranean forests. In most Spanish regions it was originally commercially harvested in the second half of the 20th century. Experts agree that wild truffle yields suffered a sharp decline during the 1970s and 1980s. However, official statistics for Spanish harvest are scarce and seemingly conflicting, and little attention has been paid to the regime for the exploitation of truffle-producing forests and its implications on the sustainability of this resource. Trends in harvest from 1969 to 2013 and current harvesting practices were analyzed as a case study, taking into account that Spain is a major truffle producer worldwide, but at the same time truffles have only recently been exploited. The available statistical sources, which include an increasing proportion of cultivated truffles since the mid-1990s, were explored, with estimates from Truffle Harvesters Federation showing higher consistency. Statistical sources were then compared with proxies for wild harvest (rents from truffle leases in public forests) to corroborate time trends in wild harvesting. Results suggest that black truffle production is recovering in recent years thanks to plantations, whereas wild harvest is still declining. The implications of Spanish legal and institutional framework on sustainability of wild truffle use are reviewed. In the current scenario, the decline of wild harvest is likely to continue and eventually make commercial harvesting economically unattractive, thus aggravating sustainability issues. Strengthening of property rights, rationalization of harvesting pressure, forest planning and involvement of public stakeholders are proposed as corrective measures.
Environmental Management – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 4, 2017
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