Report from Panama

Operations Director Damion Croston presents a check for a land lease payment to the community of Arimae

Operations Director Damion Croston visited operations in Panama a couple of weeks ago; this is his report.

The last several months has seen a flurry of activity on the ground as we expanded our tropical hardwood plantations by 20% and increased total plantain production ten fold! We also harvested our first crop of plantains from last year’s pilot project generating revenue for our shareholders and community forestry partners

This past quarter our community partners helped us plant approximately 5,500 mixed species saplings in a new plot of land in Arimae, while integrating plantains throughout some of our existing plantations. This is our first new planting since 2008, and we’re looking forward to adding value to our forestry investments through continued intercropping in each of our projects. This was also the first year that we purchased saplings from Arimae's native species nursery, which was facilitated by a grant from the UNDP-GEF Small Grants Programme.

We also recently presented the leadership of Arimae with a $10,000 payment for leasing the new plot of land. This money will be set aside for community projects which will benefit the residents of Arimae. We’re excited to be able to offer our shasreholders the opportunity to have an impact in the economic development of our partner communities. We will be hosting a group visit to see our operations in Panama in June. Contact us if you're interested in going!

Update From the Field

An aguacate de leche (milk avocado) for dinnerAn aguacate de leche (milk avocado) for dinnerI recently returned from a week and a half in Panama, overseeing preparations for planting five hectares of tropical hardwood trees. Although we were a little behind due to the lack of rain and some unexpected operational snags, we did manage to clear the underbrush, square off the rows, and finish staking the planting spots.

The crew should finish planting the trees this week, so stay tuned for a full report, along with additional photos. In the meantime, check out our photos on Facebook to see the progress to date.

Plantation Visit with UN REDD Negotiators and Indigenous Leaders

Photo of a toucan sitting on a branchA family in Nuevo Paraiso keeps a pet toucanPrior to the most recent United Nations Climate Change negotiation (conveniently held in Panama City), we hosted a group of REDD negotiators in our Nuevo Paraiso plantation. The REDD negotiators were interested to see how the Equitable Forestry model engages with our partnering landowners.

One of the largest drivers of deforestation in Panama is the contingent of small landowner who deforest to gain land title and practice subsistence agriculture and/or cattle ranching. Negotiators are working to develop REDD policies that provide incentives and a framework for activities such as Planting Empowerment’s mixed native species plantations, which can be an alternative income source for small landowners.


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Field Update - October 2010

Field report from Chris, from a recent visit to the plantations.

Planting Empowerment employee Liriano Opua with an 18' tall yellow-wood treePlanting Empowerment employee Liriano Opua with an 18' tall yellow-wood treeThe trees are growing well. Our Forester Jose Deago made a small change in managing the trees that has paid big dividends: allowing the lower branches on the the trees to develop more before pruning them. In the past, we pruned the saplings a bit too early, which we now understand can slow their development. The effectiveness of this approach is apparent because we see second years trees that are surpassing three year old trees which were pruned under the old system.

Check out photos of the trip

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Update from Panama

Operations Director Damion Croston visited Panama in early May. Here he presents a couple of the more important items from the trip.

Small Fire in Plantation

In April we experienced a small fire in one of our plantations in Nuevo Paraiso. A local partner from whom we lease land was clearing an adjacent parcel to plant crops when the fire made its way past the fire break onto our plantation. Thanks to the vigilance and quick actions of worker Jose Rodriguez damage was kept to a minimum. An investigation is currently being conducted to assess total loss and to find ways to prevent another such incident. Sponsors can rest assured that the fire will not affect the value of their holdings, and PE assumes ownership of total losses associated with the incident.

UNDP Project

Last Fall we helped our local partners in Arimae obtain funding from the UNDP-GEF Small Grants Programme to conduct an economically and environmentally beneficial forestry project. We have continued to facilitate the project by providing technical assistance. The community has made significant progress since last year and will plant some of the products from the nursery they built as part of the project next month. In the future the nursery will be used to plant native species saplings which will be sold to Planting Empowerment for use in our own plantations. We will continue to provide our local community partners with assistance and economic opportunities whenever possible.