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Farmers’ design criteria
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Designing a Farm Forest

Farmers’ design criteria

In many cases farmers can identify a range of outcomes they want to achieve by establishing a farm forest. Some will be essential to the forest’s success while others will simply be desirable outcomes. The following considerations will help farmers identify their individual priorities:

• Must haves—what the project must provide to satisfy objectives.
• Like to have—extra benefits that would be welcome.
• Must nots—characteristics or outcomes that must not occur.
• Prefer nots—characteristics or outcomes that should be avoided.

These goals help highlight the design criteria that must be achieved to satisfy farmers’ objectives, those that are common to different objectives and those which might initially appear contradictory. These goals form the basis for comparing different farm forestry designs. A project plan is developed when a farmer agrees to commit to a specific design.

Market research is an essential component of farm forest design if the products or services produced by a forest are to be sold. The farmer needs to find out about potential purchasers’ product specifications and marketing options that are available for particular products and services.

Farmers’ personal performance measures are determined by their aspirations and constraints. There are many ways for farmers to assess the best option for their individual circumstances even if they are only interested in the financial return. Some might select options that maximise the return per dollar invested. For others, the critical measure will be the return per hectare or per hour of labour. The length of the investment period might also be critical. Some farmers will ignore investment options that take more than 20 or 25 years to mature, irrespective of the promised return.

Farmers consider several factors before deciding if they are satisfied with an investment. They include the environmental, financial and social benefits they can, or can expect to, gain from the investment relative to their investment and exposure to risk. A farmer might be prepared to consider multipurpose, long-term timber production options when the costs or risks are low, or there are non-commercial benefits. . On the other hand they might reject the option of growing monoculture plantations that provide few non-commercial benefits even if they promise high returns.

Reviewing the role played by trees and forests in meeting farmers’ goals and aspirations, can help identify and set specific design principles.

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