Analog Forestry: An Alternative to 'Clear and Simplify'

By Dr. Ranil Senanayke

Modern agricultural and forestry practices have devastated many natural and traditional ecosystems and their diverse flora and fauna, replacing them with monocultures designed for maximum short-term production. The resulting highly simplified ecosystems are unstable and unsustainable and often require considerable external inputs. It is not only the poor who have ravaged local forest ecosystems, modern development agriculture and silviculture are often more destructive than ‘slash and burn’.

Stystemization of the Biodiversity Restoration and Community Development through Analog Forestry

On completion of the regional project, Restoration of biodiversity and community development through Analog Forestry, conducted in the Reventazón Model Forest (Costa Rica), Atlántida Model Forest (Honduras)and Colinas Bajas Model Forest (The Dominican Republic); the Ibero-American Model Forest Network, FallsBrook Centre and the International Analog Forestry Network present a summary and a reflection on the experiences gained by the producers, technical staff, extension workers, national and regional coordinators and other collaborators who helped develop this project.

Creating Better Opportunities: PGS and Analog Forestry

By Eduardo Aguilar and Cavan Gates

Besides providing for many of our needs, forests play a pivotal role in providing ecosystem services, ranging from biodiversity conservation to climate regulation. Yet over the last decade the world has lost an average of more than 5 million hectares of forests every year. Different examples show that marketing forest products can have a very positive impact, leading to higher incomes and also to healthier ecosystems.

Analog Forestry as an Art Form

By Dr. Ranil Senanayake

Analog Forestry (Senanayake 1987) arose from a need to expand habitat for biodiversity within anthropogenic (human managed) ecosystems. It is a form of ecological restoration that seeks to design ecosystems processes and structures that mimic the original. It is an intentional activity that initiates or accelerates the recovery of an ecosystem with respect to its health, integrity and sustainability as defined by Ecological Restoration (SER 2004) but has also been described as containing elements that could lend itself as an art form  (Senanayake and Palihawadana 1999). Indeed in the traditions of modern art, attention to the designs in nature in a conceptual way has given rise to conceptual art where the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair (LeWitt 1967). The idea becomes a machine that makes the art. Often, a natural process is understood as art, only when it is frozen in time and appears in a museum. Works of Art, even conceptual works, tend to be embedded in some form of object or structure. The depiction of Sri Lanka in the ‘Lagoon Cycle’ (Harrison 1986) is a case in point.

Analog Forestry requires creativity from the designer so that a monotony of form and function does not manifest. The knowledge of the various physical an ecological attributes allowing the designer to select for color, texture, presence of birds, butterflies etc. in addition to utilitarian functions such as provision of food, medicines, fiber etc. (Senanayake and Jack 1998). It requires the designer to consider the texture of the forest by considerations such as the relative proportions of emergent, canopy or sub‐canopy species in the design or the presence and proportions of growth forms such as epiphytes or lianas. It requires the designer to consider the capacity of the design to sustain populations of native biodiversity etc., but it also requires the designer to be creative. Aspects such as color and placement depend much on the vision of the designer, especially as the full design may not manifest for many years after establishment. This design, being analogous to nature would seem to produce aesthetically and functionally superior landscapes. Analog Forestry provides a tool with which to do so.

Analogue Forestry: A Sustainable Production System

By Anthony Dufty

Commercial forestry in Australia has focused on producing timber products at minimal cost and in the shortest time possible. This has led to monoculture plantations of a few highly productive species (e.g. Tasmanian Blue Gum). Despite the widespread use of these “industrial” techniques, other tree-based production systems (e.g. Permaculture and Analogue Forestry) are recognised globally. Analogue Forestry moves beyond most forestry practices since it includes an explicit focus on the identification and incorporation of biological diversity. In addition, Analogue Forestry identifies specific ecological functions and structures of the natural forest and models to meet with their needs. These models blend species that offer functional and/or commercial benefits to create mimicry of the naturally evolved forest (Senanayake and Jack 1998).

Many farm ecosystems are unbalanced and grossly dysfunctional (exhibiting salinity, acidification, erosion, nutrient depletion of soils etc.) principally due to the removal of the natural forest. The need for soil conservation and tree replacement is acknowledged by most land managers, yet few until recently have invested heavily in the reforestation of their properties. Analogue forestry is a means of re-establishing a forest (and its vital ecological functions) in a commercially productive system. Once established, Analogue Forestry can sustain the production of many commodities (from the herb, shrub and tree layers of the forest) and enhance stability due to the high biological diversity that is present. When this production system is built up in layers over successive years, the establishment costs for the next layer (e.g. shrub) can be offset by the sale of commodities from harvests of the previous layer (e.g. herb).

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