An Evaluation of Farmers' Experiences Planting Native Trees in Rural Panama: Implications for Reforestation with Native Species in Agricultural Landscapes
The Panamanian government has created reforestation incentive programs to encourage farmers to plant trees in order to restore ecosystem services to degraded lands. However, many farmers and landowners choose not to participate in these programs. Additionally, many such incentive programs result in large plantations of non-native species. In 2001, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute created a native species reforestation project known as PRORENA (Proyecto de Reforestación con Especias Nativas) to study strategies for successful native species reforestation in a social, economic, and scientific context.
research goals & methods
This study analyzes the results of a questionnaire of both participants and non-participants in the PRORENA project in two different regions of Panama, Río Hato and Los Santos. The questionnaire covered topics including tree management and use, perceived benefits and obstacles to tree planting, and experiences with PRORENA farm trials.
conclusions & takeaways
The questionnaire found that farmers’ primary motivations for engaging in tree plantings were concern for environmental factors such as soil, water, wildlife, and climate, and the belief that trees would improve these factors. It was also determined that small landholders were equally as likely as large landholders to be interested in planting trees, which contradicts the commonly held idea that only large landholders are interested in tree planting in order to produce timber. The main reason that non-participants cited for not wanting to plant trees was the high upfront cost and slow turnaround time. The study’s primary recommendation as the result of this questionnaire is greater involvement of smaller farmers in Panama’s reforestation programs.
An evaluation of farmers' experiences planting native trees in rural Panama: implications for reforestation with native species in agricultural landscapes. Agroforestry Systems. 2009;76:219–236. doi:10.1007/s10457-009-9203-4..