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Ecological forest farms, for their environmental regeneration of river basins
The employment of Forest Farms in other countries

The first step that needs to be taken in a country interested in adopting this scheme is to establish a legal and institutional framework for setting up innovative tenancy and land use systems. These require economic, social and environmental policies that encourage this new form of sustainable local development. Countries must also have institutions capable of identifying and diagnosing problems that compromise improvements in the quality of life for rural populations, when they do not make rational use of the natural resources with which they interact.

From the institutional point of view, the concept of sustainability must be incorporated into the programmes that are developed. Also, a central administrative authority is needed to oversee all environment aspects by introducing a packet of measures that regulate exploitation, conservation and protection of natural resources (mainly water, soil, flora and fauna), especially in river basins. It is also important that people are made to feel part of this process.

Ecological forest farms must be promoted by a central public authority responsible for agriculture, which establishes and puts into effect some basic principles. Measures should be introduced that provide guidelines for the various organisations involved in productive forestry management in those regions where the system is to be introduced. The authority must also ensure that forest farmers and their families are provided with housing and have access to basic social services.

As regards socio-cultural conditions, forest farmers must have the necessary education to be able to assimilate the essentials of any applied technology, a lot of work experience, knowledge of any traditions and autochthonous culture underlying the utilisation of wood and non-wood forest products, natural products, the multiple use of the soil for various farm, forestry, and handmade products.

Although technical aspects for farm operation depend on the country concerned, basic technical information is needed on forest and soil structure in the region or river basin, and the extent to which it is affected by various negative phenomena. Information is also needed on studies and projects for forest organisation, reforestation programmes, and agro-forestry systems in the short, medium and long terms. Another condition for the successful implementation of this innovatory scheme is the existence of a public or private forestry enterprise system, state institutions and farmers’ cooperatives.

It is very important to have trained personnel. If necessary, the Cuban Forestry Research Institute and the Forest Study Centre of the University of Pinar del Río can offer technical and organisational advise on setting up initial studies for the establishment of forest farms.

Basic material resources for setting up ecological forest farms include wood and fruit trees; genetically improved seeds of economically important forest cultivars, technical know-how on establishing protected tree cultivars, agricultural supplies and building material.