Smallholder initiatives

Smallholders also grow trees on their own initiative in small tree plantations from less than one up to a few hectares (Smith et al, 1996; Rice and Greenberg, 2000), yet more frequently in agroforestry systems, homegardens or singly. Plantation products may contribute to household subsistence, or are sold on local markets. In comparison with the externally motivated establishment of plantations, the number of planted trees per hectare is generally much lower. Often smallholders use naturally regenerated trees (Peck, 1982; Nair, 1987; FAO, 1998; Kleinn, 2000; Pinedo-Vasquez et al, 2001; Hoch et al, 2009). The following paragraphs describe the main types of tree growing initiated by smallholders.

Production forests are typically established by smallholders able to invest some capital, and who have sufficient land and time available. They are also motivated by the existence of attractive markets for the tree products. Consequently, many initiatives tend to originate from local industries with a high demand for forest products, as for example the teak plantations in Java (Maturana, 2006) or occasionally from access to national or international markets generally encouraged by traders or NGOs. These plantings nearly always require low input and are technically poorly managed. Therefore productivities are low and growing periods relatively long. Normally the trees provide a minor complementary source of income, or are used for noncommercial purposes.

Agroforestry systems initiated by smallholders reveal a significantly lower level of complexity compared to those usually promoted by development organizations. In the absence of technical and scientific expertise. Smallholders pragmatically adapt traditional strategies, as for example slash and burn agriculture in the tropics (Hecht, 1982; Miller and Nair, 2006). Here, trees and forests are used mainly for soil improvement while growing forest products plays a minor role. Yet many indigenous and traditional communities have developed quite sophisticated permanent agroforestry systems (Padoch et al, 1985). Agroforestry systems combining perennial crops with trees are widely distributed (Box 6.4). In these systems, trees, while providing products for subsistence and markets, are planted mainly for the provision of shade (Mussak and Laarman, 1989, Ramirez et al, 1992; Neto et al, 2004).

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