Paciencia P. Milan and Josef Margraf
Efforts to sustain human food production and simultaneously preserve the biodiversity of terrestrial ecosystems and their vital functions for mankind led to the development of a “Closed Canopy and High Diversity Forest Farming System”, popularly termed Rainforest Farming. The system is aiming to replace the more destructive forms of kaingin practices, form a buffer zone around the primary forests, protect its biodiversity, help maintain the water cycle of the island, and provide farmers with a stable and higher income.
Contrary to conventional paradigm of farm management, the concept works with the hypothesis that a farming system is increasingly more sustainable as its physical structure and species composition becomes closer to the original local rainforest.
In field trials on a 7 ha hilly area at ViSCA, 100 selected local tree species were tested for their performance in achieving a three-storied and maximally diverse rainforest association. Crop production is enriching the system through understory species of e.g. Colocasia (gahi) and Dioscorea (ubi) and a variety of unconventional activities e.g. mushroom cultivation, apiculture, and flower production.
Farmer-researchers are adapting the system by applying the basic principles and modifying the flexible components to their needs and to site specific requirements.
A major drawback is the scarcity of seeds from highly valid tree species due to the almost complete extinction of the Philippine lowland rainforest and to ongoing selective timber poaching which is specifically eliminating “mother trees”.
Keywords: “Closed canopy and high diversity forest farming system”
Annals of Tropical Research 16(4):(1994)