Forest Management Practices in the Bayano Region of Panama: Cultural Variations

Forest Management Practices in the Bayano Region of Panama: Cultural Variations


This paper examines differences in forest exploitation between indigenous groups and colonists along an agricultural frontier in Panama and focuses on differences in forest use, economic base, and management practices.

Research Goals & Methods

The author compares total annual income, timber harvest volume and tree planting efforts per household in 5 indigenous villages and 3 colonist villages.

Conclusions & Takeaways

Indigenous participants were found to be more likely than colonists to participate in timber extraction, with 71% involved with timber as opposed to 29% of colonists. Mean income per worker for timber extraction showed no significant difference between indigenous and colonist groups; however, due to the larger average family size of the indigenous families, the mean income per family was lower for indigenous families. Statistical tests failed to show significant differences between the groups with regard to forest restoration practices. A test which compared involvement with timber extraction and income to distance from the nearest main road found no difference between groups; however, among both groups, lower income and lower timber extraction were correlated with further distance from the main road. The author indicates that this suggests that location plays a more important role in determining resource use behavior than culture.  The author emphasizes the importance of considering the dynamic reality of both groups when developing forest management policy, rather than relying on stereotypes.



Simmons CS. Forest management practices in the Bayano region of Panama: Cultural variations. World Development. 1997;25:989–1000. doi:10.1016/s0305-750x(97)00002-8.


  • Florida State University, Tallahassee, USA