Forest management

Developing a management concept for secondary and degraded forests has been quite a process since these forests are rarely taken into consideration when it comes to developing forest management strategies. The development of management guidelines started in 2015, in collaboration with CATIE, the Central American research and teaching institution and Unique land use, the Fund’s adviser.

New forest management concept

Existing forest management practices tend towards two poles: on the one hand, a very intensive management approach for forest plantations, often aimed at maximizing productivity of a single species. On the other hand, there are hands-off management practices for intact natural forests, which mainly focus on the harvesting of very few individual high value trees, with very long non-intervention periods between harvests.

Management of a dynamic system of secondary and degraded forests needs to fall between these two extremes. Management systems must consider the forest’s eco-systems, which harbour considerable biodiversity, store and capture carbon, regulate water flows, prevent erosion and restore soils. On the other hand, forests need to provide adequate and reliable incomes for local people to prevent conversion into alternative land use. This is of particular concern when young secondary forests have led to the recovery of degraded land and soils.

Our management principles

FCCF’s management guidelines provide a balance between ecological and economic considerations. They are based on three principles:

  1. The micro-climate in the forest must be preserved by ensuring a permanent canopy cover and the forest must preserve a great variety of tree species and their genetic variance;

  2. Threatened tree species must be protected and their restoration encouraged to preserve biodiversity;

  3. Management is based on natural succession processes and targets optimized growth of quality future crop trees on a tree-by-tree basis.

Implementation of forest management following these principles requires an understanding and observation of natural processes. In many cases, people living close to forests have preserved this traditional knowledge. The steady migration away from rural areas means this knowledge is increasingly lost, as it tends not to be documented in written form. Through its partners, FCCF wants to contribute to the preservation of this important body of knowledge.

Orientation for FCCF forest management (in Spanish only)