Gathering and Commoning with Wild Species in Norway and Europe


Elizabeth Barron

Project Location


Wild plants and fungi are the building blocks of ecosystems and represent a significant source of global biodiversity. They provide living materials for a range of human needs and wants, and have potential to help us address micro to macro environmental challenges. Gathering wild plants and fungi provides food, income and nutritional diversity for an estimated 1 in 5 people around the world, in particular women, children, and others in vulnerable situations. Results of surveys conducted in Europe, North America, and the United Kingdom over the last 20 years suggest high rates of participation in gathering by individuals and households. In Norway it is well known that collecting wild foods is a popular activity through amateur societies, clubs, and as part of traditional family practice.

In addition to these biophysical, material and cultural elements, at the local level gathering wild plants and fungi provides a key way in which people interact with and “know nature”, which in turn influences their motivations and perspectives on nature conservation and environmental policy. At the international level Norway participates in biodiversity governance through active membership in such platforms as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), and is positioning itself to be a global leader in biodiversity conservation and sustainability.

This research project will examine the intersection of these domestic-facing practices and the international-facing science-policy agendas of the Norwegian government at national and international levels. Identifying synergies and tensions across scales can uncover potential issues for environmental management and the uptake of biodiversity agendas by local and regional communities. The analysis will contribute to theory building on emplaced sustainability and the inclusion of diverse knowledge and value systems in biodiversity governance.

Mountain heath species and Birch tree