From July 15-18, a course on Analog Forestry was organized by the institutions Environment and Development Action in the Dominican Republic (enda-dominicana) and the Universidad Católica Nordestana (UCNE), leaders of the governing body of the Colinas Bajas Model Forest. Analog Forestry is a key strategy for the use and management of natural resources with a special emphasis on the conservation and management of biodiversity. The objective of the course was to share and deepen novel practices to save ecosystems, involving small and medium producers, educational institutions like UCNE, and governmental and non-governmental organizations. This course was supported by enda-dominicana and the International Analog Forestry Network. 22 technicians, farmers, professionals and community leaders took part. Participants hailed from various key parts of the Caribbean, such as Haiti, Puerto Rico, and Costa Rica, and Dominican communities that are home to the projects Plan Sierra, PRONATURA in Villa Altagracia, Fundación Loma Quita Espuela and UCNE in San Francisco de Macorís, and enda-dominicana in Zambrana, Cotuí.

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Milo Bekins, who came from Costa Rica, co-chair of the International Analog Forestry Network was the principal instructor throughout the workshop. He went over the historical development of Analog Forestry and the achievements and future prospects for this practice at a global level. Around the world, there has been ample promotion and growth in the adoption of Analog Forestry by a diverse array of institutions. Mamerto Valerio, the Director and representative of enda-dominicana, emphasized the need for teachers at all levels of Analog Forestry. More than simply receiving a certificate of a four-day course, participants were making a professional, ethical and voluntary commitment to extend, promote, and adopt the practices and theories that they learned. It is hoped that an impact will be felt among the colleagues, neighbours and institutions of the participants.

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The course’s theoretical component was carried out in the conference hall of UCNE, while the practicum was held in the USNE’s demonstration farm and in the rural communities of Zambrana and Maimón. One of the concrete results was that each participant finished the course ready to undertake an ecological evaluation with measurable indicators and design an ecosystem that is desirable to one’s own purposes and adapted to those around it. Analog Forestry designs contribute to the strengthening of food security while also meeting the economic and environmental needs of the owner.

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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.

Benefits

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.

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