Environmental services of native tree plantations and agroforestry systems in Central America

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Besides supplying the growing demand for wood, plantations and agroforestry systems provide environmental services such as carbon sequestration and recovery of biodiversity. Several countries of Central America have recently started incentive programs to encourage plantation and agroforestry development. In Costa Rica, Payment for Environmental Services (PES) provides subsidies to farmers for plantations and agroforestry systems. Funding for these subsidies comes from a special tax on gasoline, and from external sources sought by FONAFIFO (National Fund for Forestry Financing). These plantations and agroforestry systems are established on degraded land by farmers who are often advised by local NGOs (non-governmental organizations) or by research institutions that have practical experience in the region. Gathering information on species selection, plantation silviculture, and environmental services provided by plantations and agroforestry systems is important to the success of these systems. These incentive programs can also serve as a model for starting or modifying similar programs in other countries with comparable ecological and socioeconomic conditions. This paper presents experiences with native species plantations over the past twelve years in Costa Rica. Data on volume, biomass production and recuperation of biodiversity are presented. We recommend the establishment of government incentives for reforestation and agroforestry systems with native Species.

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