Why sustain valonia oak agroforestry systems?
Two valonia oak systems are present in Greece: ancient open forests (silvopastoral systems) and agricultural fields with valonia oak trees (agro-silvopastoral systems). Both have significant socio-economic, ecological and cultural value. They provide ecosystem services and support traditional uses including, grazing, acorn cup and nut collection, harvesting wood (for shipbuilding, firewood and charcoal) and collection of aromatic and medicinal plants.
Valonia oak forests are one of the habitats of the NATURA 2000 network and include monumental trees in many places in Greece. The harvesting of acorn cups for leather tanning rendered it a very important traditional economic activity up to 1970s, significantly contributing to the localeconomy. The average annual production of acorn cups in the past reached 14,000 tonnes. Most were exported as raw material or processed to produce powder, liquid or extract. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in reassessing the productive value of these systems within the context of acorn harvesting, organic agriculture and animal husbandry, as well as for environmental protection reasons. There is also increasing interest in the history of this traditional practice.
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