Resource Details

Reforestation and Farmers, chapter 10 from "Regreening the Bare Hills: Tropical Reforestation in the Asia-Pacific Region"

Literature: Books or Book Chapters Available at NO COST

Lamb, D. 2011, Regreening the Bare Hills. Tropical forest restoration in the Asia-Pacific Region. Series: World Forests, Vol. 8, Springer.

Contact Info

Corresponding Author:


University of Queensland


This e-book is available free of cost from SpringerLink

Species Info

  • Cunninghamia lanceolata
  • Cryptomeria fortunai
  • Manglietia glauca
  • Casuarina oligodon


  • This chapter provides an overview of reforestation programs involving smallholder farmers, highlighting factors that influence the attractiveness of reforestation to different types of farmers.
  • The author mentions a study that classifies farmer interest in reforestation (in the Philippines): 1) Confident  farmers - had few financial constraints; 2) Experienced foresters - had some experience in forestry and wanted to apply this to their own land; 3) Doubtful foresters - had mixed feelings about reforestation and were also concerned about the ability to grow their own food; 4) Well-off famers - less dependent on farm income so they were less interested in reforestation income; 5) Disadvantaged households - did not have the financial capital to afford tree growing with only long term returns.  
  • Case study - silvicultural knowledge in Soutwestern China (Cunninghamia lanceolata). This species is commonly grown in plantations rotation of 40 years but yields decline significantly in the second and third rotation. Local "Wu" people have traditionally grown the tree in three 35-year rotations followed by a 50-year fallow with pine, fir, and mixed broad-leaf - possibly a more sustainable approach in the long term. Local "She" people grow the tree in longer rotation polyculture with Cryptomeria fortunai and other species. Authors conclude that the different ethnic groups have trouble sharing their silvicultural practices with each other. 
  • Examples of farmer reforestation programs:
  • Vietnam - Five million Hectare (government) Reforestation Program began in 1998. Smallholders are allocated land for farming and reforestation; they can also get loans and payments for various ecosystem services. Various critics have found problems with the program because it 1) is top-down and doesn't facilitate technical support and market access for the smallholders and 2) land allocation process had an unclear boundary between agricultural and forest land, and most farmers favored agricultural land. Nevertheless, the program has resulted in a rise in forest cover (partially because hilly areas have naturally reforested as farms are abandoned). Tree planting in hill areas with monoculture plantations of Manglietia glauca are done with little silvicultural knowledge, but researchers believe that support will continue to grow
  • Philippines - state-run reforestation programs were tried in the past, but have more recently been transitioned into community-based reforestation of state lands (targeted in upland areas). Communities get land access and plantation use rights for 25 years (with the possibility of extension up to 50 years). Exotic timber is recommended, but some farmers are interested in natives (Santos et al. 2003).
  • Indonesia Farm Forestry Program - Begun in Java in 1970s, encouraged farmers to plant teak and exotic timber on edges and bare plots. Studies conclude that the program has been more successful that other reforestation programs because it gave farmers secure land access and use rights, gave local governments significant authority, and gave sufficient technical assistance. In this Java case, researchers conclude that a critical mass of farmers involved in the program created strong social support as well as preventing tree theft. Rise in the price of teak, as well as the opportunity to grow shade cassava in plantations with density of 200 trees/ha have also contributed to program success.
  • Papua New Guinea - timber tree planting has traditionally been low (except Casuarina oligodon to enrich grass fallows), partially because natural forest is still extensive. Beginning in 1984, the government made informal joint ventures with local land owning clans where the government provided finance for planting (mostly exotic pine) and maintenance (hiring clan members for labor).   
  • Solomon Islands - the government works with families and landowners (not communities) and does not pay (because they fear that this will only create short-term interest). 10% of households in the country are involved. Researchers find the silvicultural extension (technical) service are very successful because they speak the local language and are familiar enough with landowners so that they can effectively target their service.
  • Lao PDR - Asia Development Bank sponsored a reforestation program but it was widely viewed as a failure because 1) small (poor) farmers took 7% / 8-year loans that were difficult to pay back and 2) farmers had little experience with exotic timber management and little technical assistance was provided
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