Agroforestry Handbooks for Pacific Islands

Final Report for EW98-004

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 1998: $57,885.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2000
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $27,377.00
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Craig Elevitch
Permanent Agriculture Resources
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Project Information

Abstract:

The protection, planting, and integration of trees in agricultural systems is vital to sustainable agriculture in the Pacific Islands. Agroforestry can serve as an important, locally achievable, and cost effective part of sustainable development and healthy rural enterprises. In the American-affiliated Pacific, Cooperative Extension Service (CES) and Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), agents are increasingly asked by producers to provide information and advice on agroforestry. However, there is a recognized deficiency in practical information available for Pacific Island agroforestry. This project helps fill this need by creating an efficient means for personnel to increase their understanding of and proficiency in tropical agroforestry on a practical level. It also creates an effective means for personnel to share agroforestry information with producers.

Agroforestry Guides for Pacific Islands comprises eight practical handbooks (average 29 pages each) covering high priority topics for Pacific Islands (see Objectives 1-7).

End user CES and NRCS personnel have been involved with this project from its inception, and were involved in evaluating the Guides during development. The topics and format for this project were determined through direct interviews and surveys of Pacific Island CES and NRCS agents. During development of each guide, five reviewers previewed each guide and gave feedback as to their applicability, readability, accuracy, and usefulness.

All eight handbooks have been written, illustrated, and fully reviewed. They were disseminated in 3-ring binders and in bound book versions to all Pacific Island CES and NRCS offices, to be reproduced freely in future years for educational purposes. The Guides are also available in electronic form for downloading from the Internet at www.agroforestry.net. The guides have been very well received by reviewing CES and NRCS agents, and by producers and other professionals.

Project Objectives:

I. To coordinate the writing, review, and production of eight handbooks (averaging 16 pages each) covering the following NRCS and CES agent selected agroforestry topics:
1) Sources of How to Information in Sustainable Tropical Agroforestry
2) Multipurpose Trees for Agroforestry in the Pacific Islands
3) Identifying Unique Niche Crops
4) Integrating Understory Crops with Tree Crops
5) Introduction to Integrating Trees into Farm Systems
6) Promising Timber Species for Pacific Island Agroforestry Systems
7) The Economics of Farm Forestry
8) Multipurpose Windbreaks Design and Species for the Pacific Islands

II. To involve at least five end user CES, NRCS, and agriculture professionals in the review of each handbook prior to printing;

III. To distribute a full set of the eight handbooks in 3-ring binders in reproducible form to 15 NRCS and 23 CES offices in the United States affiliated Pacific Islands, as well as to university and public libraries and other agricultural professionals in the region;

IV. To distribute twelve (12) printed copies of each handbook to each NRCS and CES office in the region for use by agents as a reference and for distribution to the public as they see fit;

V. To conduct a follow-up survey of 50 NRCS and CES agents three and nine months after distribution, to assess the effectiveness of distribution and the benefits of the handbooks;

VI. To publish the handbooks on the World Wide Web for free downloading in pdf format for at least a two year period after distribution of the handbook sets.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Objective:
Description:

A total of 572 copies of the bound set of Agroforestry Guides for Pacific Islands have been distributed throughout the Pacific. An additional 1,500 copies of individual guides have been downloaded from the web site to date. Guides continue to be downloaded at a rate of about 200 per month. The book has been sent to eleven major agroforestry and sustainable agriculture publications (magazines and newsletters) for announcement and review, and has been announced repeatedly (over ten times) in the international agroforestry email journal The Overstory.

Follow-up phone calls and emails following distribution of the Guides confirmed that almost all copies of the Guides were reported distributed, first to office extension agents, then extra copies were given to other agricultural professionals, producers, university staff, and community organizations. The Project Coordinators believe all targeted CES and NRCS agents in Hawaii, Guam, Palau, American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Northern Mariana Islands have received the publication. The Guides have already been used by NCRS for agroforestry training; an NRCS agent from Guam distributed 13 books during a training on Kiribati to agricultural and forestry officers and nongovernmental staff from the Republic of Kiribati, the Republic of Tuvalu, the Republic of Palau, Niue Island, the Cook Islands, and French Polynesia. In American Samoa, Guides were distributed from the Community College to the National Park of American Samoa, the Department of Agriculture, and the EPA. In Hawaii, several NRCS and CES personnel have been very active in distributing copies of the Guides to university staff, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and producers.

Educational/Informational Materials Produced

Agroforestry Guides for Pacific Islands is a 239-page book, fully indexed, containing over 70 illustrations and species tables introducing hundreds of Pacific Island agroforestry species. The book includes eight self-contained chapters:

1. Information Resources for Pacific Island Agroforestry
Provides an introduction to agroforestry, followed by descriptions and contact information for books, guides, periodicals, organizations, and web sites useful to practitioners of agroforestry in Pacific Islands.

2. Multipurpose Trees for Agroforestry in the Pacific Islands
Introduces traditional Pacific Island agroforestry systems and species. Provides a species table with over 130 multipurpose trees used in Pacific Island agroforestry, detailing information on uses (food, fodder, timber, etc.) and tree characteristics such as height, growth rates, and habitat requirements.

3. Nontimber Forest Products for Pacific Islands: An Introductory Guide for Producers
Discusses the environmental, economic, and cultural role of nontimber forest products. Provides planning suggestions for those starting a nontimber product enterprise. Includes a species table of over 70 traditional Pacific Island nontimber forest products.

4. Integrating Understory Crops with Tree Crops: An Introductory Guide for Pacific Islands
Introduces planning considerations for planting crops with forestry, orchard, or other tree based systems. Examples of understory intercropping systems in the tropics are included, as well as a species list of over 75 trees, shrubs, and vines used as understory crops in the region.

5. Introduction to Integrating Trees into Pacific Island Farm Systems
Presents eight Pacific Island agroforestry practices that integrate trees into farm systems. Includes silvopasture (trees and livestock), windbreaks, contour hedgerows, live fences, improved fallow, woodlots, sequential cropping systems, and understory cropping.

6. Choosing Timber Species for Pacific Island Agroforestry
Discusses seven steps for choosing timber species that meet the project goals, product requirements, and environmental conditions for a farm forestry or agroforestry project. Includes a species table of over 50 Pacific Island agroforestry species that provide quality wood products, detailing environmental tolerances and multiple uses.

7. Economics of Farm Forestry: Financial Evaluation for Landowners
Introduces strategies for determining the financial returns of small scale forestry and farm forestry projects. Includes a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of investing in farm forestry, and the steps in determining the costs involved, estimating returns, and comparing farm forestry with other land uses. Also explores the potential of improving economic picture through value added strategies or agroforestry practices.

8. Multipurpose Windbreaks: Design and Species for Pacific Islands
Covers information on windbreak design, followed by a discussion of planning considerations for multiple use windbreaks for timber, fruit/nut production, mulch/fodder, or wildlife habitat. Includes species table of over 90 windbreak species for Pacific Islands, detailing environmental requirements and uses/products.

The handbooks were also produced in 3-ring binder form on heavy duty paper for easy reproduction or faxing in future years (one binder per office). They were also included in the SARE funded CD ROM project, PEOPLE (Portable Extension Office for Program Literature Exchange, another WSARE PDP project), which was also distributed to each office with the binder, so that agents can pull up or reproduce the Guides from their computers. The Guides can also be downloaded free of charge from www.agroforestry.net.

Impacts on Agricultural Professionals

Fifty agricultural professionals reviewed the Guides intensively. Eighteen additional CES and NRCS offices were contacted by phone or email. There has been very positive feedback about the quality and usefulness of the information presented. All offices contacted reported that they received the books. One hundred percent of agents interviewed said they would recommend the Guides to practitioners.

Comments by agricultural professionals include:

“The book has proved very useful for myself and staff.. Thank you very much for sharing the fruits of your hard work. It has begun to stimulate interest amongst both extension agents and landowners. Very motivating and informative. Malo galue!” Colin Steele, ASCC/AHNR Forestry, Am. Samoa

“Agroforestry Guides for Pacific Islands represents the first real effort to organize historical, cultural and technical information on agroforestry trees and system design and construction for the Pacific Basin. The Guides will provide a wealth of information for agency and private sector consultants who have previously had ‘no place to go’ for information pertinent to our unique conditions and requirements. In addition, the growing number of producers that are hungry for information on alternative, sustainable, and agroforestry systems will now have a broader menu to choose from at our technical assistance table. Your hard work and well assembled data will be appreciated by all who read, use, or pass on the Agroforestry Guides for Pacific Islands.” Steve Skipper, District Conservationist, USDA NRCS, Kealakekua, Hawaii

“Agroforestry Guides for Pacific Islands will be of immense use as reference material to our faculty and students in agronomy, horticulture, and forestry. The Guides provide a comprehensive, analytical account of the principles as well as the practical implications of agroforestry in the Pacific Islands. The possibilities of using agroforestry systems to increase the productivity and sustainability of tropical lands will be of increasing importance in the next century … I am certain that Agroforestry Guides for Pacific Islands will serve to stimulate future research and a better understanding of agroforestry systems in the Pacific Islands.” Bruce W. Mathews, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Agronomy and Soils, University of Hawaii, Hilo, Hawaii

“This new agroforestry publication provides excellent guidance to Pacific Island natural resource professionals and landowners in the practical planning and application of a variety of agroforestry practices. The editors and their collaborators have assembled a wealth of agroforestry information into a concise format that is also supported with strong listings of direct references, sources for further reading, pertinent internet sites, and resource professionals who can provide additional guidance. I encourage natural resource professionals in the Pacific Islands who work with private landowners to read this new publication and add it to their reference library.” Bruce C. Wight, Agroforester, NRCS, USDA National Agroforestry Center, Lincoln, Nebraska

“Wow! It is like having an agroforestry library and librarian at your finger tips. The book is well researched and organized and the individual self contained chapters will be of great value for extension and education. Having the entire book available on the web will mean that many more people will be able to benefit from the SARE funding than could have ever been imagined.” James R. Hollyer, Project Manager, Agricultural Development in the American Pacific (ADAP) Project, CTAHR, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii

“Agroforestry Guides for Pacific Islands are particularly useful as sources of ideas on what trees and crops to plant and what new systems might prove useful in the Pacific. They are well researched, clear, and nicely illustrated. Their availability on the world wide web should make them accessible to a wide audience.” J. B. Friday, Ph.D., CES Extension Specialist in Forestry, CTAHR, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Hilo, Hawaii

“This publication will give farmers ideas and encourage more tree/crop integration. The examples of systems that are now used by farmers in a variety of environments is particularly useful.” Karl Dalla Rosa, Forest Stewardship, Hawaii

“It is very practical. The organization of the sub topics is great, it is specific and to the point, which is good for people looking for quick answers.” Rogerene K.M. Arce, CES Molokai

“I would recommend this guide to practitioners. It gives people a better idea of the reason for what type of agricultural system or crops to pursue. It is a good introduction for people interested in a sustainable agriculture system.” Matthew Wung, NRCS Hilo

“I found the numerous examples of cropping systems most useful … Likewise I appreciate the species lists … I enjoyed the simple and telling illustrations a lot. And the references to other literature and organizations including websites is an excellent tool.” Ida Theilade, Danida Forest Seed Centre, Humlebaek, Denmark

“The guide is well written, informative and easily accessible to the reader. The use of illustrations in the tables add interest and provide mental images to the details mentioned in the text. Providing a substantial list of tree species and their indigenous uses is very useful.” Simon Kimber, GTZ Integrated Food Security Project, Vietnam

“Thanks so much for your hard work on this. It is very much needed and our environment will be all the better for your efforts.” Denise Light, NRCS Kealakekua

Reactions from Farmers and Ranchers

Sixteen farmers and other agricultural professionals/producers reviewed the Guides. Some comments include:

“The publication is well thought out, and clearly introduces these sustainable farm strategies.
Very well put together introduction on integrating trees into Pacific farm systems.” Jan Wolff,
Farmer, Pahoa, Hawaii

“I have read quite a bit of your new book, and would like to compliment both of you on its contents… I found it very interesting and extremely comprehensive. This book I am sure will endure long after we are gone. Thank you, and keep up the great work. Mahalos” John Florek, Farmer, Kona, Hawaii

“The publication very eloquently makes a case for reintroducing and emphasizing trees in our island agriculture. I have nothing but praise for this handbook … you’ve compiled a lot of excellent and worthwhile information together, and have assembled it in a manner that reads easily. The examples are superb as are the illustrations and format. I think that you have done a wonderful job… Keep up the good work.” Bill Raynor, The Nature Conservancy, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia

Outcomes and impacts:

Objective I: To coordinate the writing, review, and production of eight handbooks (averaging 16 pages each) covering NRCS and CES agent selected agroforestry topics.

All eight guides have been written, reviewed, and produced in book, 3-ring binder, CDROM, and electronic (PDF) form.

Objective II: To involve at least five end-user CES, NRCS, and agriculture professionals in the review of each handbook prior to printing.

Each of the eight handbooks listed above underwent a preliminary and final review process, involving at least five reviewers (including at least one CES and NRCS agent) per handbook. In all, 50 agricultural professionals were involved with the review process for the handbooks. This included 16 agents from CES and NRCS, 16 producers and agricultural professionals, and other reviewers from nonprofit organizations, other government agencies, and university scientists.

Objective III: To distribute a full set of the eight handbooks in 3-ring binders in reproducible form to 15 NRCS and 23 CES offices in the United States-affiliated Pacific Islands, as well as to university and public libraries and other agricultural professionals in the region.

Based on office requests, 3-ring binders containing a full set of the eight handbooks were distributed to 22 NRCS offices and 13 CES offices in Hawaii, Guam, Palau, American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Additional binders were sent to three other organizations in the region: the Department of Land and Natural Resources, the University of Hawaii East-West Center, and the Tropical Reforestation Ecosystem Education (TREE) Center. Based on their stated preference, University and public libraries were given their copies in book form (see Objective IV).

Objective IV: To distribute twelve (12) printed copies of each handbook to each NRCS and CES office in the region for use by agents as a reference and for distribution to the public as they see fit.

The handbooks were bound into book form (8 handbooks in one book). Based on office requests, books were distributed to 22 NRCS offices and 13 CES offices in Hawaii, Guam, Palau, American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Each office received 12 copies of the book. Included with the books were one CDROM of PEOPLE (Portable Extension Office for Program Literature Exchange, another WSARE PDP project), which included the final versions of all eight handbooks as well as other agroforestry extension materials produced by the Project Coordinators. In addition, 148 copies of the book were sent to university and public libraries, other government and nongovernment organizations, and agricultural professionals in the region.

Objective V: To conduct a follow-up survey of 50 NRCS and CES agents three and nine months after distribution, to assess the effectiveness of distribution and the benefits of the handbooks;

Feedback has been solicited from extension agents and other agricultural professionals since the handbooks were made available on the Internet in November 1999. Additionally, excerpts from each handbook were published in The Overstory beginning in April 1999, and comments and feedback requested from an audience of over 2,000 subscribers. Follow-up phone calls and emails to NRCS and CES offices throughout the Pacific were conducted to assess the distribution of the publication. Over 50 NCRS, CES, and agricultural professionals have provided their feedback.

Objective VI: To publish the handbooks on the World Wide Web for free downloading in pdf format for at least a two-year period after distribution of the handbook sets.

Handbooks have been posted on www.agroforestry.net since November 1999. Their availability was announced to CES and NRCS agents, the web address is provided in the book, and over 2,000 agricultural professionals were notified of their availability through The Overstory. Over 1,500 guides have been downloaded from this site to date.

Project Outcomes

Recommendations:

The project design was effective. Increased email and web access in the region helped disseminate the information and solicit feedback, much more than originally proposed. These channels should continue to be emphasized in the future.

The Project Coordinators have found that expert authors and contributors should be compensated. This applies to professionals who are not able to participate as part of their salaried positions, or those (such as producers) who do not receive salaries, and who therefore must do the work in their free time. For future projects payment for authors and contributors should be budgeted to ensure that they will be able to participate fully without undue burden.

The lag time between the proposal and the disbursement of funds was a drawback for a project of this nature. Some reviewers or authors who wanted to participate in the handbooks had changed jobs or already committed their time elsewhere by the time the funding came through and the project was able to get underway. Replacements had to be found.

Work on this project has also pointed to another important unmet need for agroforestry information. Extension agent reviewers were pleased with the species lists and charts included in the Guides. However, many feel that the charts are only a beginning in providing the information they need on Pacific Island agroforestry species. Practical information on local trees for agroforestry in the region is scarce.

To address this information gap, the Project Coordinators recently submitted a proposal to Western Region SARE to produce and distribute Species Profiles for Pacific Island Agroforestry Trees (4-8 page practitioner oriented fact sheets) for fifty outstanding species that are used in traditional Pacific Island agroforestry systems. The Species Profiles will provide practitioner-oriented information on these trees, including information on propagation, environmental requirements, farm uses, and commercial products. To author the Species Profiles, a team of five of the leading authorities in Pacific Island agroforestry has been assembled, representing expertise on species from throughout the American-affiliated Pacific. The Species Profiles are designed to provide extensive species information to complement the systems/practice information provided in the Guides.

Potential Contributions

Agroforestry is a vital part of sustainable agriculture in the tropics. In the Pacific Islands, interest in agroforestry is increasing. Producers seek to integrate trees to conserve soil and water, diversify products, reduce inputs and purchases, and protect their land from wind and erosion. Agroforestry can also benefit communities by stimulating rural economic development, beautifying agricultural landscapes, improving biodiversity, and reversing certain environmental problems.

Agroforestry Guides for Pacific Islands provide practical, concise, user friendly, locally appropriate information. Agents gain an effective means to learn more about the many ways to integrate trees into productive systems. Agents are also able to share this information with producers efficiently.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.