Native Panama Tree Species Propagation Guide

Guide to propagating native tree species of Panama
Guide to propagating native tree species of Panama

Cover artwork for the Native Species Propagation GuidePlanting Empowerment employees Liriano Opua, Yen Dogirama, and Mateo Johnson recently attended the release of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Guide to Propagating 120 Native Tree Species of Panama. One of the co-authors of the book is Jose Deago, who guided us for several years in planting and maintaining our mixed native species forestry plots.

The book is a great resource for those interested in advancing the adoption native species forestry, and also those interested in investing in tropical woods. Producing native species saplings requires understanding and optimizing the variables of soil chemistry, watering, and shading. The right balance is required for the saplings to be transplanted successfully and achieve optimal growth.

We’re proud to be purchasing some of our native species saplings directly from the nursery of our Indigenous partner community Arimae. Through a grant from the UNDP-GEF Small Grants Programme, Liriano and Yen facilitated the construction of the nursery and the equipment to raise the saplings. Read the full case study about the project. They manage the nursery on behalf of the entire community and source most of the seed from the community’s forest preserve.

We used saplings produced in Arimae’s nursery for the first as part of our five hectare June 2012 planting (photos). While not scientifically conclusive, Liriano reports that the saplings produced in Arimae’s nursery have the highest survival and growth rates. Liriano and Yen left the conference with signed copies of the book, and are and be able to reference the book in the future.

Must-Reads For Tropical Forestry Investing

Photo of women sorting native species saplings in Darien PanamaWomen sort native species saplings in Darien PanamaTwo recently published reports examine the roles of private capital in forestry, and increasing investment flows to locally controlled forestry.  

The Guide to Investing in Locally Controlled Forestry, released in December, is the product of a series of meetings called the Growing Forest Partnerships Initiative. The initiative, managed by the Yale School of Forestry’s Forests Dialogue, brought together investors, forest rights-holders, policy makers, and donors for a series of meetings to develop a set of recommendations to increase investment flows into locally controlled forestry. We contributed a case study about the challenges and benefits of building a local focus into our business model.   

In January, The European Tropical Forest Research Network (ETFRN) and Tropenbos released their News 54 publication entitled Good Business: Making Private Investments Work for Tropical Forests. The ETFRN/Tropenbos piece looks more broadly at the role private finance plays in the restoration and sustainable management of tropical forests. With an estimated investment of $15 billion per year, the private sector represents the largest investor in sustainable forestry. We contributed a case study to this report as well, a more in-depth look at how the Equitable Forestry model increase benefits to local communities and reduces investment risk.

All the case studies featured in the Guide to Investing in Locally Controlled Forestry and the ETFRN News 54 are inspiring examples of how organizations are attracting private investment to sustainable forestry models and increasing local control of tropical forests. We consider them must-reads for anyone interested in investing responsibly in forestry, and feel honored to be included.

Yale 2012 ISTF Conference Proceedings

Last year we had the pleasure of presenting our approach to forestry at the Yale School of Forestry's annual conference. Just in time for this year's conference, the ELTI (Environmental Leadership and Training Institute), a joint program of the Yale School of Forestry and the Smithsonian Tropical Forest Research Institute (STRI), published the conference proceedings from 2012.

The conference was titled Strategies for Landscape Scale Restoration in the Tropics, and the proceedings document captures approaches from government, conservation organizations, and businesses working to restore forest cover in the tropics. 

The panel we participated in, 'Private Sector Engagement in Forest Restoration', explored successful for-profit reforestation models in Central America.

And be sure to check out the other publications on ELTI's website.

Good Wood study

Our polyculture agroforestry plantations with plantains intercropped between rows of treesOur polyculture agroforestry plantations with plantains intercropped between rows of treesThe Union of Concerned Scientists recently released a study entitled Wood for Good (PDF), which discusses the most sustainable ways to produce timber and other wood products. This is one part of a series of reports on deforestation that previously identified commercial logging as one of the main drivers of deforestation.

One whole chapter in the report discusses where we as a society should be harvesting wood from. We were encouraged to see that one of their main recommendations is for polyculture systems with native tropical hardwoods. They cite a number of studies noting the environmental and production benefits such as more biomass, habitat, reduced need for fertilizer, and increased yields. Unfortunately, they note that polyculture systems are still rare compared to their distant cousin, the monoculture plantation.

The paper did note that monoculture plantations can be sustainable sources of wood products and pulp, but primary forest should never be cleared to make space for the plantation. Logging to make room for monoculture palm oil plantations is a leading driver of deforestation in Southeast Asia and a source of carbon emissions.

Their recommendations to protect water and reduce soil erosion, reduce chemical inputs, protect biodiversity, protect genetic resources, and plant on degraded land are all practices we implement as part of our Equitable Forestry model.

Finally, they note the importance of making forestry work for the communities living in or near the forests. Without offering communities sustainable alternative income generation activities, the clearing of forests will continue alongside the illegal logging.

Yale Forestry Conference Presentation

Last month we had the privilege of speaking at the annual Yale Forestry Conference on a panel that explored private sector engagement in forest restoration efforts. In the presentation we discussed the details of our sustainable business model, including lessons learned and recommendations for developing community forestry projects.

For a summary of the presentation, visit the Yale School of Forestry blog, or download the presentation slides below.

Yale Forestry Presentation (1 MB)