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analogforestrynetwork.org • View topic - Defining ecologically-sensitive forest gardening

Defining ecologically-sensitive forest gardening

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Defining ecologically-sensitive forest gardening

Postby russell.vinegar » Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:08 pm

Calling all Analog Foresters and other ecological forest garden/silviculture/agroforestry practioners and collaborators!

We are deep in the midst of revising our (FGP) standard to gain acceptance in the IFOAM’s family of standards, to strengthen the international credibility of FGPs and provide our contribution to the development of ‘beyond organic’ certification. Simultaneously we are taking steps towards applying (PGS) with FGP standards, to enhance local marketing opportunities and strengthen inter-farmer collaboration.

Learning from the experience of other organizations working with PGS at a workshop this past month at the Secretariat in Londres, a key take-home message was to simplify our norms to their essential elements, to increase the accessibility of the standard and make it applicable in the field for farmer peer visits (PGS-speak for inspections). This simplification will similarly benefit our third-party standard.

The challenge, however, is to simplify while preserving the quality of our production standard. In order to do so, we need your help!
Please share your views on what constitutes ecologically-sensitive forest gardening?
What distinguishes it from organic agriculture or other agroforestry approaches, in spirit and, more importantly, in practice?
Is application of the Analog Forestry design method crucial? How might we include people using other approaches?

Think big here, but consider important details: (agro-)biodiversity, inputs, soil fertility, shade and forest structure, social concerns, domestic and wild animals

Your comments and ideas will help us to craft basic standards, to serve as the core set of practices as we develop our PGS. From these standards we will create a checklist or rubric for use in on farmer peer visits in the field.
To get a better idea of what we are aspiring for, you can have a look at the and from the Organic Farming Association of India's (OFAI) PGS program. As you can see in their standards, qualitative guidelines can be just as important as quantitative; nevertheless, they must still be measureable in the field.
As we begin involving local stakeholders, like producers and extension organizations, the basic standards and checklist/rubric will be adapted to suit local language and perspective. Nonetheless, these documents will provide the base with which we engage partners and begin the process of collectively creating an effective PGS model, and help us refine our third-party standard.

Our first step is to clearly define the essential components of ecological forest gardening - let us know your thoughts!

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You can view the last published version of the FGP standard , but keep in mind many changes to improve its content and structure are already well underway.

If you have any trouble registering for the forum, let us know or provide your input to forum@analogforestrynetwork.org
russell.vinegar
 

Re: Defining ecologically-sensitive forest gardening

Postby eduardo » Wed Feb 27, 2013 7:09 am

Thanks Russell for the detailed explanation... I think at this point we could start with something simpler (always keeping in mind the FGP production standards) like the question What distinguishes it from organic agriculture or other agroforestry approaches, in spirit and, more importantly, in practice?

Hope to see people participating... :-)
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Re: Defining ecologically-sensitive forest gardening

Postby Jörg » Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:40 pm

Hi,
first of all: Great work! As I have been developing a certification standard some years ago, I know how hard this work is!
I am supporting the idea of simplifying the standard wherever possible to make it accessible to small farmers.

Howver I would like to add some other comments, not knowing if the contrubute to keeping it simple ;) .

Here we go:

Rational/Principles
The role traditional, gender and age specific knowledge could be incorporated into principles 1 to 3.


Ref. to Terms and definitions and ref. to the aspect of wild harvesting, page 16 and Annex II D:
Please further clarify the aspect of ‘wild’/’wild collection’ as demarcation from domesticated species:
IFOAM defines organic wild products as “derived from a (clearly defined) stable and sustainable growing environment.”
According to the IMO/SIPPO wild collection guidelines require a)“ The collected plant grows naturally in an area, which has not been treated with prohibited inputs (according to the respective organic regulation) for at least 3 years.” b) “ The collection areas are not owned by the company itself (public land) and/or are of vast size.” c) “The collected plants must grow and regenerate naturally without any agricultural measures.”

In my view, wild collection as such mostly implies selection and and may impacts on natural regeneration. Thus it must be considered a disturbance of the natural population dynamics/gene drift as. Furthermore, are seedlings collected from the wild already being considered as ‘domesticated’? If a sustainable harvest level is defined, should it be based on local people’s observations/experience and/or scientific evidence?


Ref. to page 27: Annex II B: Animal biodiversity
The traditional livestock biodiversity should be explicitly preserved and promoted. The standard could include or refer to the Biocultural Community Protocols. An inventory of animal biodiversity could be an option.

Ref. to Annex IV: Indicators
In the context of certification. technology and know-how transfer are critical issues. Especially in communities of developing countries it might be difficult to find qualified operators or develop the required knowledge. At the same time it is a chance the requirement of qualified operators offer local job opportunities for the youth. This could be emphasized.
At the same time traditional and historical knowledge should be incorporated. Elder people often have a huge fundus of change indicators.

Ref. to Annex V C: Record keeping:
Where applicable, traceablility of seeds and plant materials used (autochton, allochton sources) should be made mandatory, especially in the case of domesticated, semi-domestigated species or plant material used from natural forests.
It should be discussed if and how man-made geneflow between local plant and animal populations can be avoided and or if and where it makes sense (e.g. increasing yield) and is wanted and where it would cause unwanted genetic erosion.

So far for now.

Kind regards

Jörg
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Re: Defining ecologically-sensitive forest gardening

Postby russell.vinegar » Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:14 pm

Edu - couldn't agree more, let us keep it simple

Jörg - thanks for your input, your comments are useful, but for the sake of this discussion let us try and keep it simple. What is the essence of sustainable forest gardening for you?
The idea of working with traditional resource users for indicators is very interesting and actually being applied by the Keystone Foundation in their PGS work with wild honey in India!

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Key components that currently distinguish FGP from most organic standards:

Biodiversity and ecosystem protection: planning around landscape ecology, monitoring with indicator species (to ensure what?), limiting disturbances and promoting ecological stability

Perennial polyculture: tree-dominated component in system, fuzzy idea of 40% shade (what does that mean?)

Reducing external inputs: reducing external energy use, only breeding stock of large animals can be brought in, using feed produced on farm

Social concerns: workers safety, investment in community development, regulations on salary and hours, accomodations, fair pricing

What are other important, verifiable aspects of these four basic components?
russell.vinegar
 


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