Creating a business model for sustainable native timber in Panama
About the project:
Across nearly 400 hectares of Panama's Chiriquí Province, Initiative 20x20 partner 12Tree is transforming the teak and acacia plantations at Boca del Monte farm into a sustainably managed enterprise. By thinning out the plantations and taking advantage of the FSC and Gold Standard-certified trees, 12Tree is creating jobs in a region that has long struggled with unemployment.
As part of its commitment to sustainability, 12Tree has preserved 60 ha of natural forests, including galley forests that protect waterways. Under the teak and acacia trees that it acquired in 2017, both of which are non-native species, the company has begun the process of growing high-value native hardwood species that can be sold for export.
Planting and managing the acacia trees are the first steps toward restoring the farm's heavily degraded land, but eventually, the entirety of Boca del Monte will be covered with a sustainably managed and biodiverse mix of native species. Through this experiment, 12Tree is exploring an alternative business model to the traditional monoculture tree plantations of exotic species that dominate the Latin American timber market yet often degrade the land.
By increasing the value of the timber extracted from this working forest, 12Tree will help the local economy grow and greatly expand the farm's current workforce of 13 employees. The company takes its workers' health and safety seriously by training workers in directed felling techniques that improve the quality and safety at work and providing educational programs for local children and their families. 12Tree's long-term goal of establishing a vibrant local wood processing industry will also ensure that more revenue and income stay within the local communities.