Bilberry pickers lose habitual picking sites due to clear-fellings

Submitted by Looduskalender EN on Sun, 10.03.2019 - 09:02

University of Tartu, Conservation Biology Working Group

Photo Arne Ader

English translation Liis

Estonian text posted 28.02.2019


Bilberries ( )



A survey of the experiences of Estonian bilberry pickers shows that most of the respondents have lost picking places in the clear-fellings of recent years.  More skilful planning of fellings would help to reduce the  social and cultural damage.

The survey, based on interviewing  experienced bilberry pickers, showed the long-term personal and cultural ties with picking sites. In the last ten years however more than two-thirds of those who replied have had to abandon some of their picking sites – mostly due to clear-felling. Finding new harvesting sites is time-consuming and difficult for people with reduced mobility, and few had noted establishment of new high-yielding bilberry picking sites. The results of the study show that for maintaining a viable berry picking culture for instance mapping bilberry harvesting sites that are not yet known to pickers by the felling enterprises would be helpful .

„As an interesting fact it turned out that bilberry pickers preferred state forests to conservation areas where there are almost no fellings in berry harvesting sites,” Liina Remm, researcher at the University of Tartu and leader of the study commented. ”We also showed that picking sites are chosen not only based on the abundance of bilberries but also pleasant surroundings and that in order to have a steady picking yield over the years experienced pickers have several bilberry picking spots in different forest types.”
The nature conservation biologists of the University of Tartu have previously studied changes in bilberry abundance in Estonia in the 20th century and linked them to forest management: LINK

The present study has expanded the knowledge of the biology of bilberries on the behaviour of berry pickers and their preferences regarding forest properties. The study was published in the journal Baltic Forestry.

Additional information:
Liina Remm, researcherr
University of Tartu, Conservation Biology working group

5343 1021

The main objective of the TÜ Conservation Biology working  group is to clarify and predict the state of biodiversity and the functioning  of different ecosystems in modern human governed conditions and to develop a knowledge-based protection and sustainable management of ecosystems in Estonia as well as in a broader perspective.


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