Analog Forestry as an alternative for rural development and environmental conservation
The International Analog Forestry Network (IAFN) has established a series of demonstration sites around the world, including an important group in the Caribbean watershed of Costa Rica. The demonstration site in Pacayitas, Turrialba, called Finca Buenaventura, was established under this initiative in 2008.
According to the IAFN, Analog Forestry is a type of agroforestry that seeks to construct and recreate potential ecosystems and native vegetation, following the original physiognomy of the corresponding ecological zone in a particular geographic area. Additionally, the rural areas in which these initiatives are carried out can result in social as well as economic benefits, since Analog Forestry involves the sustainable harvesting of forest resources. Furthermore, this system allows for the development of other activities like community tourism, environmental education, and subsistence production.
Based on these considerations and the study carried out in Finca Buenaventura, it is posible to affirm that Analog Forestry constitutes an alternative to encourage sustainable rural development and environmental remediation in areas where high-impact, intensive agricultural and herding operations have traditionally been carried out in such a way that has degraded the environment.
Finca Buenaventura can be seen in this context as a family project situated in a rural community that is beginning to show benefits to its owners as well as the environment. Additionally, the impact in terms of environmental education has been significant, since the site has been repeatedly visited by groups of students from universities, primary and secondary schools, and international researchers.
The benefits of Analog forestry far exceed its effectiveness as a method of sustainable subsistence agriculture. This modern, groundbreaking agroforestry technique gives rise to a gamut of environmental management solutions. An excellent example of these benefits can be seen in relation to one of the most important resources of our planet, water. Analog Forestry thus becomes a powerful ally in the management of watersheds.
The mix of forest species that seek to emulate the natural environmental conditions have the effect of creating a living barrier for soil conservation. These trees serve as a stabilizing agent against the cycle of erosion that can shelter hillslopes, brooks, capture and control of water flows, in addition to other functions such as living fences, windbreaks, and boundery markers between properties, among others.
Thus, Analog Forestry represents a viable alternative to encourage alternative development strategies in a rural environment. Although it does require dedication, economic investment, and several years to bear fruit, the preliminary results point to a secure future for the farm’s owners, the community, and the environment.