solutions: appropriate farm forestry designs
Farm forestry is about fitting forestry into
a farming culture rather than replacing it. If it is to contribute
to the vision of industries, communities and governments, these
groups must first make sure that farmers are able to achieve
their goals. If farmers are to take responsibility for the design
and development of their forests, then farm forestry research,
education and promotion needs to focus on assisting them design
and evaluate farm forestry opportunities in light of their own
circumstances and performance criteria.
Farmers may initially be drawn to farm forestry by an attractive
vision of what it might offer them, their family or community.
They will consider the opportunities and continually evaluate
them against their personal beliefs, aspirations and constraints.
Farmers will commit to a farm forestry project if they can identify
an attractive project, access the necessary resources and feel
confident about their ability to overcome the inevitable risks.
The community must encourage farmers to adapt and refine forestry
options and allow those with an interest in the products and
services provided to directly reward those who deliver them.
The negative side of this is that farmers will be penalised
for not meeting their responsibilities as land managers.
But an initial commitment doesnt guarantee future satisfaction
and is a poor measure of success. Farmers are responsible for
making sure that their commitment of land, time, money and enthusiasm
reflects their aspirations and performance criteria. Making
the personal commitmentfor example, by establishing the
trees or entering into a forest agreementis only the first
step. Future success depends on confidence, maintaining the
financial investment and continued personal satisfaction.
Long-term and multifunctional land uses like forestry are rarely
assessed on the basis of any single criterion. Farmers will
assess their satisfaction with a project in the context of the
financial, environmental and social benefits they receive, or
expect to receive, compared with their investment and risk exposure.
Where the price of failure is low, a farmer may still be able
to use the experience gained and lessons learnt to justify continued
Multipurpose forestry enables the costs of producing one product
to be paid for by the benefits provided by another. When this
is possible, the traditional constraints involved in commercial
forestrythe cost of the land and the long investment periodbecome
less important. An example of this is when a farmer can justify
the cost of establishing commercial trees on the basis of non-timber
values the forest will provide as it grows. This helps farmers
develop viable, multipurpose forestry options in areas previously
considered too dry, small, difficult, or far away for commercial
The aim is to encourage farmers and stakeholder participation
in the design of unique agroforestry and farm forestry systems
that match each grower's site conditions, non-timber interests,
personal resources, market opportunities and future aspirations.
This would result in systems of ownership, layout, structure
and function that reflect the physical, social and economic
diversity inherent within farming communitieselegant solutions
that fit the unique situation facing each farmer.
Designing a farm forest
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