Agua Salud adds coffee, silvopastoral projects
July 17, 2012
Erin Raboin (L), a masterís student from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and Johana Balbuena, a research assistant at STRIís Agua Salud Project, measure trees at the projectís new silvopastoral site on June 19, 2012.
Agua Salud, STRIís flagship land-management project in the Panama Canal Watershed, is adding a shade coffee plantation and silvopastoral cattle ranch to its portfolio of catchment experiments. The Panama Canal Authority, a key project partner, is funding the 25-hectare coffee and 35-hectare silvopastoral farms.
Agua Salud seeks to better understand the ecosystem services provided by tropical forests and create models for land management and smart reforestation. Enhancing biodiversity benefits and improving carbon sequestration and fresh water regulation on managed landscapes are among the goals. The models could potentially benefit hundreds of millions of people across the tropics.
Jeff Hall, the director of Agua Salud, says the silvopastoral and shade coffee plantations aim to increase productivity and diversify income for farmers. Silvopastoral farming, for example, emphasizes the planting of nutrient-cycling trees, which can help fertilize improved grazing grasses and eventually be used as timber. The same applies to the overstory trees in the coffee plantation. ďThe idea is that the added structural complexity of the system should improve ecosystem services and also provide stacked economic benefits through time,Ē says Hall.