By Mirta Rodríguez P
It is about 'Sabores de Bosques Sostenibles', a pioneering project in the world, led by the Association for Spanish Forest Certification (PEFC), which advocates for the orderly and sustainable use of wild foods, such as: fruits, pine nuts, mushrooms, truffles, aromatic plants and even Iberian pork, to name a few.
Ana Belén Noriega, general secretary of PEFC told EFE that in Spain, for example, there are more than 1.7 million hectares of certified forests, comprising more than 12,460 public and private managers that can be exploited.
The project includes protected sites such as those of the Natura 2000 Network, national or natural parks, ‘which are home to a high biodiversity of species’ and seeks that people value more the natural resources that they have around them.
With this initiative it is a question of betting on an 'economy of scale that offers employment alternatives to the inhabitants of rural areas so that they can stay and live in their town', points out Noriega, adding that 'if we manage to allow people to live in their environment in a dignified way with the resources they obtain from the forest, we will ensure that they do not live with their backs to the forest, they value more what is there and are involved in its care and defense '.
According to Noriega, the project aims to create 'employment, not wages' and highlights 'green employment' that brings a product or service to the market under a sustainable production system, respecting the environment, but also taking into account the dignity of the worker .
THE EXPLOITATION OF FORESTS IN PANAMA
Although the initiative to exploit the forests originated in Spain, it must be remembered that in Panama the sustainable use of flora is also promoted, through programs such as the Reduction of Carbon Emissions caused by Deforestation and Degradation of the Forests (REDD +) and that of the National Association of Reforesters and Related of Panama (ANARAP), to plant one million hectares in 20 years, and among others.
As for whether the European project could be implemented in Panama, the agronomist and ANARAP spokesperson, Ariel Vaccaro, told the newspaper La Estrella de Panamá that although it is a positive project for the flora, the exploitation of all forest products it is not so viable for Panamanian farmers, mainly that of fruit trees; but the exploitation of resources under forest plantations does. ‘The exploitation of fruit trees is not so feasible for our farmers because they lack skills; However, what is more feasible for them are the activities carried out under the trees, such as the silvopastoral system (raising cattle, goats, etc.) or the planting of products such as coffee, ’says Vaccaro.
On the other hand, Noriega affirms that she is convinced that this and other projects could end up becoming a generator of employment and an engine of local development. ‘Our project pursues the diversification of economic activities based on forest sustainability. We intend to promote edible products from the forests, as well as other flavors (aromatic, smoke, firewood for cooking, etc.) that generate a continuous flow of resources and a way of life, 'says Noriega, highlighting that rural tourism has opened a exceptional door to this type of activity, but we must continue to investigate new ways to exploit forests.
The Panama Star