An evaluation of farmers’ experiences planting native trees in rural Panama: implications for reforestation with native species in agricultural landscapes
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In the Republic of Panama, reforestation with native species is of great interest, but many landholders often do not participate in tree planting projects and little information exists about landholder interest in, or experiences with, native trees. This study evaluates the experiences of farmers participating in a native species reforestation initiative in rural Panama to identify lessons learned that can guide on-going or future tree planting efforts. Based on the results of a questionnaire administered to program participants and non-participants (n = 68), we found that trees are important to farmers for multiple reasons, primary a variety of environmental and economic benefits. No relationship between the size of landholdings or land tenure status and the desire to plant trees was found. All participants in the program considered their experience to be positive, few had problems with their plantations, and most were interested in planting more native trees. The program’s frequent and ongoing technical support was an important factor for farmers. These results indicate widespread interest in, and success with, planting native species and underscore the need to systematically examine farmers’ interests and perceptions when planning, implementing, and evaluating reforestation initiatives.
KeywordsOn-farm trials Project evaluation Tree planting Agroforestry Silvopastoral Smallholder farmers PRORENA
We would like to thank the farmers of Rio Hato and Los Santos for their participation and patience with this study. We are also grateful to PRORENA staff-members and affiliates who contributed to aspects of the design and implementation of this research, including Jairo Batista, Jose Deago, Brian Love, Emilio Mariscal, Anayansi Batista Vera, and Mark Wishnie. A special thank you to Dr. Amity Doolittle, Dr. Michael Dove, Bradford Gentry, and Helen Poulos from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, as well as to Jose Manuel Perez, Dr. Rick Condit, and Dr. Stanley Heckadon for their guidance and input in various stages of this research. We also appreciate the efforts of Milton Sorano from STRI who produced the map for this analysis. Funding for this research was provided by the Agora Foundation and the Frank Levinson Family Foundation.
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