Dewis Gwyllt Evaluation
‘Dewis Gwyllt’ (Wild Choice) was a joint initiative between Llais y Goedwig and Wild Resources Ltd, exploring and researching opportunities for income generation from wild, forest products to support community woodland groups in Wales.
The aim of the pilot project was to pilot a fully certifiable supply chain operated by intermediary social enterprises.
As the website states, “Many plants have interesting uses – but not all can be marketed for sale. Determining what products from which plants could be harvested sustainably and sold, the identification of potential customers and how to reach them is what turns an idea into an income. This is what is termed the ‘supply chain’ which links a wild resource in the woodlands to its consumption by a customer.”
The project explored a number of products including birch syrup, wild garlic, elderflower, tree seeds, and essential oils. The findings, along with a range of information and resources to support community groups to develop their own sustainable products and establish new supply chains in the future, can be found at www.dewisgwyllt.co.uk
R4C were appointed as project evaluators for the project in October 2019, and the project was a very challenging one due to the Covid-19 pandemic heavily impacting the project team as well as sectors that were the focus of the project, community woodland groups and the retail/hospitality sector.
We provided support for the team across the three-year project, and the mid-term evaluation exercise in particular was key in enabling the team to re-assess some of their goals in light of the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, and identify ways forward to progress to maximise the deliverable impacts within the lifetime of the project.
By the final evaluation, the project had done well in difficult circumstances and hit all their output targets. The outcomes were mixed but largely positive, with valuable learning and new knowledge gained that will have a positive impact on both woodland products and sustainable woodland management going forward. The learning will also benefit future project design, governance, and resource allocation for all partners going forward.
There is undoubted potential in this sector, along with increasing interest from retailers and consumers in sustainable and ethically sourced products. The challenge going forward will be to develop the supply and scale it up to a level that is economically viable.