Over the next two years, IAFN and our key partner, FUNDECOR, are seeking to promote the ecological restoration of forests and improve livelihoods using diverse production systems such as analog forestry in the Maquenque region of Costa Rica. By establishing five model farms in the region, we hope to stimulate and strengthen value-added production of forest products that are grown from analog forestry systems. We will apply these strategies principally in the biological corridor of San Juan-La Selva.

Currently, intensive agricultural production in the region is focused on pineapple and banana farms, as well as extensive cattle ranching, which has negative consequences such as the contamination of water, soil erosion, and the degradation of nearby natural areas. A landscape with a higher level of forest cover, which is possible with the application of analog forestry, would bring economic benefits and contribute to sustaining the region’s ecosystems.

In order to restore forests through the application of analog forestry, and to find markets for non-timber forest products, this project focuses on two main results, the first being capacity building and the sharing of experiences in diverse production systems. This will be accomplished through the establishment of model farms and workshops that will be held with locals from the region.

Finding a market and adding value to agricultural products is a key challenge for any agricultural system. For this reason, the second result is the strengthening of value-added non-timber forest products. A participatory study at the beginning of the project will help identify potential value addition processes that are potential with analog forestry production. A local farmers’ network will be formed in order to strengthen the production and marketing of products that come from analog forestry systems.

As a key element of this project, we plan to work with a critical mass of local farmers and institutions so that the benefits are replicable and sustainable. This initiative will complement the activities of other major actors in the region, such as the Agricultural Sector Committee (Comité Sectorial Agropecuario) and the Organization for Tropical Studies (Organización de Estudios Tropicales). We will execute this project in collaboration with FUNDECOR, which has a long-term involvement in the area. By the end of the project, FUNDECOR’s technical staff will be trained on analog forestry in order to be able to continue supporting and promoting analog forestry and ecological restoration in the area.

This project, then, seeks to promote alternative and sustainable land use in the region through the application of analog forestry as a tool for ecological restoration and the improvement of livelihoods.

Community participation will be key in order to meet the project’s goals. In order to ensure the empowerment and active participation of the beneficiaries, a series of activities have been planned to involve them from an early date, including workshops, knowledge exchanges, and field visits.