Mediterranean forests play a pivotal role for local economies by providing a large array of ecosystem services and goods. Despite its potential, the sector is facing significant challenges at many levels, including: low profitability of slow-growing timber, niche markets for Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFPs), and a wider context of aging rural population, farmland abandonment and scrub encroachment, leading to an increase in the occurrence of megafires, which is further aggravated by climate change. A sustainable, inclusive, smart bio-based economy centred on multipurpose trees and NWFPs can be part of the solution, if triggered by an improvement in knowledge exchange channels between NWFP practitioners and scientists, and among regions. The purpose of INCREdible is to address the existing research and innovation knowledge divide in relation to NWFP-service systems of the Mediterranean basin. In particular, INCREdible aims to link knowledge and foster collaboration among different groups of stakeholders, developing innovative business models and enhancing the expertise of rural regions towards the development of inclusive economic strategies.
To achieve these objectives, INCREdible will developan Innovation NETworks (iNets) around crucial lines of Mediterranean NWFPs: cork, resins, aromatics, and edibles. Each iNet will aim to gather best practices (both practical and science-based) related to NWFP production, transformation and trade channels. Particular attention will be drawn to cross-cutting sectorial
issues such as: (i) innovative business models and value chains, (ii) innovative access to finance, (iii) innovative marketing and digital tools. Lastly, INCREdible will collect information and knowledge arising from iNets into an interregional online platform, which will function both as deposit and exchange system of information among partners, existing networks and organizations, for raising awareness of existing success cases and cross-fertilization.