Why Farm Forestry / Multipurpose Farm Forestry Makes Common Sense /
Elegant Solutions: Appropriate Farm Forestry Designs
Why Farm Forestry
Why Plant Trees
Markets for products & services
Designing a Farm Forest
  Elegant 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 doesn’t 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 commitment—for example, by establishing the trees or entering into a forest agreement—is 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 investment.

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 forestry—the cost of the land and the long investment period—become 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 forestry.

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 communities—elegant solutions that fit the unique situation facing each farmer.

Designing a farm forest

Back to top

Farm Forest Line © 2009 | Disclaimer