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Agroforestry for sustainable development: Policy lessons from Central America and Panama

by Portal Web Editor last modified Jan 10, 2013 09:10 AM
Contributors: Hans Gregersen, Ellen A. Maurer, Layout by Sharon Graham, Lesa Langan

SUMMARY: This working paper was developed under the USAID-funded Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Training project (EPAT/MUCIA). It is conceived as an instrument to guide efforts to introduce sustainability concepts to development projects that concern social forestry, watershed management, and conservation. The author highlights policy related lessons from eleven social forestry programs from five Central American countries, with the hope that these examples will reduce the isolation of policy makers from field issues. Social forestry is presented as an alternative to large scale planting and strictly protected forests. A framework of seven factors for gauging the contribution of a project to sustainable development in a given area is presented and it is used to evaluate the eleven example projects. The framework calls for an assessment of externalities created by the project, continuity after the project ends, diffusion of results, distribution of costs and benefits among individuals in the project area, mechanisms for dealing with uncertainty in the project, market demand and supply, and institutional innovations.Common problems that were observed include a lack of continuation of support once sponsorship of a project ends and the short-term focus of many projects. Donors should make sure that projects are in line with recipient country's development interests and should have commitment from the recipient government to continue the project after support has ended. In addition, restrictive legislation discourages activities such as tree management and this hinders integration of conservation into farm management.Among the projects, it was observed that sustained training of farmers and their participation in demonstration plots contribute to conservation goals. This can be complemented by the use of technology that provides some short-term benefits that provide timely payoffs for efforts expended on new management styles. Technology and methodology are most useful when they are flexible and agile for use in management.

Author(s): Hans Gregersen , Ellen A. Maurer , Layout by Sharon Graham , Lesa Langan

Publication Date: 1994

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