Can tropical farmers reconcile subsistence needs with forest conservation?
Despite efforts to protect tropical rainforests through various policy initiatives, forests continue to face pressure from smallholders' subsistence needs, especially in montane regions. This paper proposes a means to turn abandoned montane pastoral land into productive agroforestry land as a viable alternative to further encroachment on existing forests.
research goals & methods
The authors develop an economic model for standard pasture compared to reforestation of abandoned pastures with Andean alder (Alnus acuminata) for commercial harvest, focused in montane Ecuador adjacent to Podocarpus National Forest. Andean alder is fast-growing in montane regions, resprouts with coppicing, provides nutritious fodder, and useful in furnituremaking and crafts. The economic model indicates that for a 30-Ha farm, farmers may see an increase in revenue by up to 65% over a 40-year timeframe with an Andean alder plantation as compared to pasture alone, with simultaneous reductions in deforestation.
conclusions & takeaways
The paper promotes a mixed-income model for small montane farms in the tropics, focusing on products with well-established markets. The paper suggests that adoption of reforestation would be more attractive to small farmers if training and technical support, as well as low-interest loans, were available.
Can tropical farmers reconcile subsistence needs with forest conservation?. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 2009;7:548–554. doi:10.1890/080131.
- Institute of Forest Management, Center of Life and Food Sciences Weihenstephan, Technische Universitat Munchen
- National University of Loja, Ciudadela Universitaria
- Institute of Siliviculture, Center of Life and Food Sciences Weihenstephan, Technische Universitat Munchen