In this blog post I hope to continue to expand upon the potential of Agroforestry in the Kalu Yala Valley and specifically investigate a piece of legislation that could be of great help in a push for an expansion of the Agroforestry Project. However, I must first give a quick recap of the Agriculture Teams progress during our 9 day trip to the Valley. We began to prepare for the building of our Greenhouse, first by collectiong the bamboo stalks that would make up the frame of the greenhouse and then we dug our post holes for the main support beams. The Greenhouse will measure 20 feet by 30 feet and should provide ample room to meet our current needs and still allow for future expansion of our farm and Agroforest. Secondly my Program Director, Ian Chesser, and myself decided on the area where my Agroforestry demonstration plot would be placed, and began to thin the overgrown brush in the area to prepare in for planting. Finally the team egan to brainstorm design ideas and compiled a list of species we would like to see planted in the Valley, and we will be making a trip to a local Nursery to acquire seeds and cuttings very soon.
The long term vision for the Agroforestry plot would to begin to reforest much of the pasture land within the valley property that is not already destined for future development. What I envision is reforestation based on the principals of Agroforestry, designed in a manner such that it maintains or enhances the functioning of the ecosystem while simultaneously providing products that could be of socio-cultural benefit to the future community of Kalu Yala. This will require investment, both in terms of man power and financially. This begs the question, how do we find a way to uphold our principles of sustainability without breaking the bank in the early stages of development before economic benefit can be derived from the forest products? The answer may come in part from a piece of legislation that was passed by the Panamanian government in 1992. Law 24 was designed to provide economic incentives for reforestation projects within Panama, At the time the law was passed it is estimated that Panama was losing it’s tropical forests at a rate of 79,000 hectares per year. Law 24 would provide several important benefits to Kalu Yala. Firstly any wood harvested within the project is exonerated from Panamanian Taxes and all investments in the project are 100% deductible from the investors Panamanian Income Tax ( Law 24, Article 5). Secondly, and important for a large scale project, any equipment and materials purchased for reforestation can be imported into Panama Tax free (Law 24, Article 6). If my Agroforestry plot should prove successful, Law 24 would provide a means of expanding the project while reducing the cost, this means a better return on investment. It is my hope that Kalu Yala could apply to INRENARE in the near future to join the reforestation project and begin to derive the some of the benefits from this legislation.