Forest garden potential
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CTA. 1997. Forest garden potential. Spore 70. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/48807
The traditional agro forests, otherwise known as forest gardens, of Sumatra, Indonesia are productive, sustainable and, most importantly, help to preserve biodiversity in the animal and plant life that flourishes there. Although the agro forests...
The traditional agro forests, otherwise known as forest gardens, of Sumatra, Indonesia are productive, sustainable and, most importantly, help to preserve biodiversity in the animal and plant life that flourishes there. Although the agro forests have been established by farmers, they form a highly sophisticated and intricate system which could provide important lessons for other regions in the tropics interested in re-establishing forests which could provide local people with a wide variety of products. Each Sumatran farm is made up of two hectares, which collectively form an area of ten thousand hectares of forest. The farmers begin by clearing the natural forest in order to cultivate rain fed rice for one year. After the first year, rice is grown in irrigated paddies beyond the forest and the forest fields are inter planted with coffee, pepper, fruit and damar (Shorea javanica) trees. For the first 10-15 years income is provided by the food crops but, once the damar trees mature, the trees are topped for the resin which is used in paint, varnish and incense production. The trees also provide high quality timber as the stand is gradually thinned and then finally felled after a period of about 80 years. Although the agroforests of Sumatra occur on the margins of natural forest, the same approach could be used on degraded farmland. The soil would have to be enriched at the outset with the use of fallows, but the agroforestry system could then be gradually built up to eventually provide a multistrata agroforest providing a variety of products. Experiments to trial this model have already been economically very successful in Amazonia and there is also potential to repeat the process in West Africa, for example in Cameroon, by using indigenous species to provide their own timber, fuelwood, food and medicinal products. ICRAF PO Box 30677, Nairobi, KENYA and Dr Roger Leakey, Institute of Terrestrial Ecology Bush Estate, Penicuick, Midlothian, EH26 0QB, UK