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In accordance with the principles of sustainable forest management, non-wood forest products (NWFPs) are increasingly gaining in importance when it comes to forest policy and nature and environmental protection policy. In addition to the global level, the interest in NWFP, in recent decades, increases at the regional level, as well. In the region of Southeast Europe has been an increase in the number of studies that deal with the issue of NWFP. However, policy instruments, which are related to this area, are still poorly understood.
In this connection, the main goal of this research is to discuss the impact of specific policy instruments on NWFPs-based business in selected countries of Southeast Europe (Croatia, Macedonia and Serbia), as well as the analysis of the attitudes of representatives of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for purchase, processing and placement of NWFPs in terms of procedures related to the NWFP-based business and cooperation with relevant institutions. The purpose of the research is to find opportunities for improvement of policy instruments and administrative procedures of the NWFP, in selected countries, in order to improve development of the sector. The subject of the research are strategic, legal and institutional frameworks related to NWFP, and the attitudes of SME representatives towards the documentation required for the entire process of purchase, processing and placement of NWFPs and cooperation with relevant institutions.
This paper presents the results of research conducted within FOPER II project "Entrepreneurship, markets and marketing of non-timber forest products in the SEE region".
In the research are applied descriptive, comparative, content analysis and statistical methods. As a research technique is used door to door survey. The questionnaire consisted of 51 questions, grouped into 6 topics. In this paper are analysed 7 questions, related to the subject of research. The sample consisted of 27 representatives of NWFP-based enterprises in Croatia, 36 in Macedonia and 91 in Serbia.
Analysed legal documents were adopted in the last two decades, which indicates that the governments in all analysed countries made some step forward in the recognition of NWFPs importance, after the political and social changes that have occurred in the region during the transition period. Strategic documents (Table 1) in all 3 countries emphasize, as priorities, implementation of the national inventory and control of trade in protected species. However, only a strategic document in Macedonia point out the need for the support to development of entrepreneurial activities in this part of the forest sector. However, although the importance of NWFPs has been recognized, in these countries is still present a problem in terminology. In most legal documents (Table 2), these products are, still, named as "minor" (Croatia), "secondary" (Macedonia) or "other" (Serbia) forest products. Legal documents in analyzed countries prescribe the inclusion of NWFP in forest management planning process. In analysed is present an overlapping of responsibilities of institutions (Table 3) in the sectors of forestry, nature and environmental protection, in terms of NWFP. However, what is very important for forestry sector is that the ministries in charge of forestry are only partially responsible for NWFPs. Regarding respondents’ attitudes towards the documentation needed for the entire process of purchase, processing and placement of NWFPs, only the majority of representatives of SMEs in Serbia believe that it is too large (Table 4). Cooperation with the ministry responsible for forestry has the majority of respondents only in Croatia, but it is mostly related to agriculture and the use of subsidies. Majority of respondents in Croatia and Macedonia, and all of them in Serbia cooperate with the ministry in charge of environmental protection and it mainly related to obtaining permits for collecting, import, export and transit of NWFPs (Table 5). Cluster analysis showed clustering of respondents in 3 groups in Croatia, 2 in Macedonia and 4 in Serbia, based on 3 categorical variables (largeness, time and costs related to documentation), as shown in Table 6.
However, in Croatia and Macedonia are clearly distinguished 2 groups, the first cluster is composed of representatives of SMEs who believe that collection of documentation is a problem in their business, while the other cluster members indicate that this procedure does not interfere them in their business activities. In Serbia, there is not second cluster. These 4 clusters are formed on the basis of the problems caused by different factors, which influence the process of collection of necessary documentation.
In order to improve the situation in the future, it is necessary to:
– Adopt a single policy document, which will clearly define the directions of policy relating to NWFPs;
– Include representatives of regional and local authorities, NWFPs-based enterprises, and local residents, to ensure the presence of all stakeholders during the preparation of planning documents, rules and regulations, as well as possible strategies for sustainable use of NWFPs;
– Clearly outline the responsibilities for the implementation and control of laws and by-laws;
– Develop and improve collaboration with ministries of forestry and environmental protection;
– Establishment of a monitoring system, which would follow and document collection and use of NWFPs;
– Simplify the procedure required to obtain permission for commercial NWFP collection in Croatia and Serbia, as it was done in Macedonia (on-line application and gathering a license for 1 to 2 days).
It is important to emphasize that, in formulating policies related to the NWFPs, the results presented here should be taken carefully, since they relate only to the surveyed representatives of SMEs and not to the all SMEs in the region. Similarly, the conclusions and recommendations presented in this paper refer only to the NWFPs policy and legislation and the institution responsible for these products and, therefore, can not be directly applied to other aspects of forest policy in the analyzed countries.
Key words: non-wood forest products; policy instruments; small and medium enterprises
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