ifoam'96 ifoam'96
Book of Abstracts
11th IFOAM Scientific Conference
11-15 August 1996, Copenhagen, Denmark
EcoWeb Denmark


Canopy farming: a challenge for organic silviculture W9/P2

Oldeman, Roelof A.A. and Valverde, Patricia

Agricultural University Wageningen, Department of Ecological Agriculture, Haarweg 333 , 6709 RG WAGENINGEN , the Netherlands

In mature forest parts, biodiversity is unevenly distributed. The highest species diversity occurs both in the living, upper soil horizons and in the crown canopy. These show amazing similarities. For instance, the ecological functions of phyllosphere bacteria and fungi are close to those of N-fixing bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi in the soil. In wet forests in general, but particularly in tropical rain forests, the crown canopy is very rich inspecies, many being useful.
Usually these are termed minor forest products, collected by local inhabitants. This is a compromise between intact forest conservation and primitive subsistence economy. Local people are mistakenly assumed to like such an economy. Moreover, the canopy has a high potential for low-volume, high-tech ecological production, such as vaccines, genotypes or microorganisms for ecotechnology. Hence we apply the basic, immemorial idea of ecological agriculture. This is not merely to collect, but to cultivate these product-carriers in their own environment, according to ecological principles of near-natural recycling and biodiversity. Such canopy farms do not exist as regular enterprises as yet.
In the present study we examine the ecological and technical feasability of tropical rain forest canopy farming, especially in tropical America. No economical or marketing studies are included, but clearly uneconomical options were left out. Options for specifications of tailor-made canopy farms are orderly arranged in the CANOFARM Infobase. This computerized tool allows to navigate easily, with a current computer in a tissue of precise knowledge, woven around central issues of crops and trees, cultivation methods, species choice, canopy choice, infrastructure building and education & training. The Info Base is especially constructed for practice. A free demo version is available to IFOAM participants. Pioneer canopy farms are now prepared by members of the Circle of International Canopiculturists / Kring van Internationale Kronendakboeren (CIC/KIK).