As part of our mission to improve opportunities in rural areas, IAFN supports community-based training activities. In this workshop, held from June 4-8, 2014, the IAFN team, with trainer Oscar Fonseca, travelled to the community of Rancho Quemado, on the Osa Peninsula. This workshop was the first that IAFN carried out within a community setting in Costa Rica since 2011, rather than at its training center in Londres. The idea arose out of the knowledge that many farmers and other people living in remote communities are not able to travel and stay for several days at a training centre, as they have obligations in their communities, with their families, and on their farms or places of work.

Rancho Quemado is a small community located within the Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve, close to the edge of Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula. It is an extremely important area in terms of forest conservation and biodiversity, dominated by tropical rainforest, and adjacent to one of the two main bodies of fresh water in the area (Laguna de Chocuaco). The Osa Peninsula is estimated to house some 30-50% of Costa Rica’s total biodiversity.

The community in Rancho Quemado traditionally depended on cattle ranching and other agricultural production, including African palm plantations, and in the past poaching and artisanal gold prospecting have also been important economic activities, though they are significantly diminished today.

In recent years the community of Rancho Quemado has turned to eco-tourism, and several projects have been established, including the building of cabins for tourist accommodation, the development of hiking trails, and tours of local farms. The participants in this workshop were interested in using analog forestry to help them regenerate degraded lands in this unique ecosystem, while contributing to their agricultural and tourism activities.

This workshop also had a marked focus on practical activities. In addition to the fieldwork that is an important part of any analog forestry design process, the participants all got together on the final day of the workshop to put together a community nursery in the local school, which is currently growing the trees that will be planted throughout the community, including mahogany, caobilla, cerillo, quira, suita, fruta dorada, escobo, chaperon, cedro, and gallinazo.

In addition, there was a strong interest from the community in applying the analog forestry methodology to their own land. The property of Enrique Ureña was used for the design exercise and he expressed his intent to pursue the establishment of a site. Several other participants indicated that they would follow suit, and there is interest in pursuing analog forestry restoration on land belonging to the Environment Ministry in the community.

IAFN thanks the community of Rancho Quemado for their assistance, interest, and collaboration in the workshop. We would also like to thank UNAFOR Costa Rica, who acted as co-sponsors of the event. IAFN’s participation in this training was made possible by funding from Both Ends, for which we are very grateful.

For more information, click here to see a photo gallery from the event, or download the full training report below.

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