An evaluation of farmers' experiences planting native trees in rural Panama: Implications for reforestation with native species in agricultural landscapes
In the Republic of Panama, reforestation with native species is of great interest, but many landholders often do not participate in tree planting projects and little information exists about landholder interest in, or experiences with, native trees. This study evaluates the experiences of farmers participating in a native species reforestation initiative in rural Panama to identify lessons learned that can guide on-going or future tree planting efforts. Based on the results of a questionnaire administered to program participants and non-participants (n = 68), we found that trees are important to farmers for multiple reasons, primary a variety of environmental and economic benefits. No relationship between the size of landholdings or land tenure status and the desire to plant trees was found. All participants in the program considered their experience to be positive, few had problems with their plantations, and most were interested in planting more native trees. The program's frequent and ongoing technical support was an important factor for farmers. These results indicate widespread interest in, and success with, planting native species and underscore the need to systematically examine farmers' interests and perceptions when planning, implementing, and evaluating reforestation initiatives.