September 21st, 2017, Ross Bull, the Executive Director of the Balkan-based organization CNVP, visited CERE to explore the possibility of future collaboration, including the design and delivery of a workshop on forestry economics. This would be linked to two SIDA-funded projects under implementation in Albania and Kosovo that are focused on: strengthening private forest activities; developing value chains for non-timber forest products owned by women; and using wood biomass for renewable energy.
CNVP uses evidence-based analysis to improve the sustainable livelihoods of rural communities. It intervenes to build a greener economic environment within the ongoing process of climate change, and control the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources. CNVP is implementing two SIDA-funded forestry projects in Albania and Kosovo. Both are focused on: strengthening private forestry activities; developing value chains for non-timber forest products (NTFPs) owned by women; and using wood biomass for renewable energy, particularly to help municipalities move away from diesel usage.
Concerning the development of NTFPs, women who are members of Private Forest Owner/User Associations collect, process and market forest fruits, medicinal plants, mushrooms and honey. The two projects in Albania and Kosovo are strengthening businesses linked to the different NTFP value chains, helping to identify markets and achieve long term contracts. In both countries, rural traditions remain strong, and women are often excluded from the real economy, having left school early to care for home and children. The integration of women into the economy helps them to lead more productive lives, increase their incomes (that are often spent on the health and education of their children), and boost the local economy.
The Executive Director of CNVP, Ross Bull, came to CERE to find a lecturer who could help design and deliver a workshop for CNVP staff and project beneficiaries that would assist them to understand the importance of using empirical data, as well as methods for their collection and analysis. Ross met staff from different Departments at SLU that work with similar projects. He hopes that, over time, it will be possible to form a network between universities in Sweden and the Balkans. As CNVP works closely with Ministries of Agriculture and Private Forest Owner/User Associations, Ross believes this could provide a good foundation for field work and research. The visit was appreciated by CERE, and we hope that future collaboration between CNVP and CERE will be possible.