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A bioeconomic rationale for the expansion of tree planting by upland Philippine farmers
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 authored by T Nissen, David MidmoreDavid Midmore
Upland farmers have long been cast as key actors of deforestation, but in the wake of timber scarcity brought on by deforestation and logging restrictions, many have adopted a new role—tree planters.Responding to market signals, upland farmers in Mindanao have spontaneously been planting fast-growing timber species on parcels going out of annual crop production. What is the prospect for expanding the role of this sector in meeting national tree planting goals? Research was conducted in Bukidnon Province to compare the potential returns from trees and annual crops, and determine hether the typical farm forestry practice of intercropping trees and crops conferred efficiencies that could make it competitive with larger scale plantation projects. A bioeconomic model developed from the research suggests that timber cropping provides higher annualized returns under fertility and labor/capital constraints, and that optimized intercropping designs produce higher annualized returns than monocropping due to growth benefits to the trees and savings in weeding labor. We therefore suggest that farm forestry is economically efficient, environmentally advantageous, and socially empowering, and that policy should be pursued to facilitate its expansion by providing information such as best management practices and by removing disincentives to tree planting such as harvesting restrictions and tenure insecurity. In our view, there is little need for publicly funded planting of fast-growing exotics. Forestry investment should instead be directed at protecting and enhancing the nonmarket benefits of complex forests.