Berries and mushrooms
Berry and mushroom picking is a popular outdoor activity in Finland. Annually more than 50% of Finns pick berries or mushrooms. The largest part of the harvest is picked for domestic use, but a considerable share also ends up in markets. Altogether 16 million kg of wild berries and 0.3 million kg of mushrooms was collected commercially in 2013. This generated a direct income of approximately 30 million €.
This indicator deals with the harvest of wild berries and mushrooms. Besides the tangible benefit of berries and mushrooms themselves, collecting berries and mushrooms has great signifigance as a recreational activity (see Cultural services > Recreation).
Commercially most important berries are bilberry, cowberry and cloudberry. Berries of minor importance include buckthorn, crowberry, rowan, arctic bramble, cranberry and raspberry. For mushrooms, the most important species include cep and northern milk cap. Species of milk caps (woolly, rufous and northern), false morel, chanterelle, winter chanterelle and horn of plenty are also commonly used. About twenty other species are domestically used as well.
Berries and mushrooms require specific habitats and conditions to provide harvest. Majority of the harvest is collected in forests but some berries, such as cranberries and cloudberries grow on mires. Cowberry and bilberry provide annually the largest berry yields, and are studied the most by Finnish Forest Research Institute. Both berries are pollinator dependent and affect to yield abundances. Light, water and nutrient conditions of the soils are factors that define habitat suitability. These conditions are steered by forest treatment practices.
Approximately 2-10 % of the total berry yields are harvested annually. For mushrooms the share is estimated to lie between 1-5% of the total yields. Major share of the harvest is used in households but more commercial berry picking by foreign pickers is emerging. Finnish Forest Institute has encouraged public to use this opportunity more by publishing yield reports during harvest season. The amounts that reach to markets are monitored annually by the Agency of rural affairs. In 2012 the incomes of picking berries were 25,3 million euros. For mushrooms picking incomes reached to 0,9 million euros in 2013.
Berries are used as ingredients of many natural medicines. They are studied to have good nutritional values as they are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and fiber. Berries are also used as ingredients of cosmetic products. Drosera genus mushrooms are used for medicines, such as cough medicines. Mushrooms are also used for dying purposes.
Both berries and mushrooms are integral part of forest ecosystems. Berries are important part of food network, for example for grouses. Mushrooms form symbiotic mychorrizas that are vital for some plants in forests. The health benefit of berries and mushrooms comes from nutritional use but particularly health benefits are acquired through the actual outdoor experience.
Turtiainen, M., Salo, K. & Saastamoinen, O. 2011.Variations of yield and utilisation of bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) and cowberries (V. vitis-idaea L.) in Finland. Silva Fennica 45(2): 237–251.
Vaara, M., Saastamoinen, O., & Turtiainen, M. (2013). Changes in wild berry picking in Finland between 1997 and 2011. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research, 28(6), 586-595.
- Updated (08.09.2017)