Analog Forestry: sustainable food production with a feminist perspective
In times of ecosystem degradation, deforestation and climate change, rural communities often struggle to make a living in a healthy and autonomous way. One of the solutions to counter their problems is Analog Forestry, a sustainable practice promoted by many of Both ENDS's partners. We spoke to Carolina Sorzano Lopez*, Analog Forestry trainer from Colombia for the International Analog Forestry Network (IAFN), and Luz Marina Valle*, a local Analog Forestry promotora in her community of El Jocote in Northern Nicaragua, to explain to us the advantages of Analog Forestry.
What is Analog Forestry and what are its advantages?
Carolina: It is a way of restoring forests. In conservation, normally you think only of conservation of nature, but in Analog Forestry we also take people and their economic well-being into account. An analog forest looks like a natural forest, but with useful species that provide food or income to the community.
Luz: An Analog Forest has many functions: restoration, but also production and climate change mitigation. Now that in Nicaragua there is little native forest left, due to deforestation and large monoculture plantations, this is extra important.
Carolina: Indeed, in many places soils are degraded by monoculture production. With Analog Forestry we can restore the soils which is essential to get healthy and resilient ecosystems that have a natural resistance to plagues, droughts and other threats. Diversification of crops means a farmer decreases risks and also needs less external input (like chemicals) to counter threats.
Luz: This is what now happens in my community. Due to drought, many of my neighbours haven't been able to harvest their grains yet and won't be able to pay back their credits they had to take to be able to sow in spring time. Whereas I have no such problems at my parcel, I can still harvest because of the great diversity of species I grow.
How did you start to work with Analog Forestry?
Carolina: I was working as a biologist in the environmental institutions of the Colombian government, but I wanted to focus more on serving local communities and their needs. Then, at a training in Bolivia I met a member of the IAFN. This turned out to be exactly what I was looking for.
Luz: Analog Forestry is part of the agroecological model I already applied to my parcel. So when we were invited in 2019 to join a training of IAFN in Costa Rica together with some colleagues of FEM I was happy to go. This was organised as part of the GAGGA programme. We left the training not only with a lot of theoretical knowledge, but also with a design for our own Analog Forest on our own pieces of land.
When can Analog Forestry be applied?
Carolina: It is adaptable to different situations. For example, big or small, from 5 or 6 hectares to less than 1: it is always possible, although in the small ones you have to adapt more and see which species are possible in such a small space. It also depends on the goal one has, for example is it only for feeding their own family or also bringing products to the market?
Luz: I have a parcel of 0,5 manzana (about 1/3 ha) on which I was already working within the agroecological model. Analog Forestry complements this. Two years after the training, I already can harvest cafe, banana, maracuja, sunflowers, different spices and vegetables, and next year I'll have avocado too.
But, as Carolina says: many people want to earn money too, so next year I'll also experiment with some cash crops: mais and beans, for example. I want to show my community members what's possible with Analog Forestry.
How does Analog Forestry improve access to good and healthy food for all?
Carolina: Analog Forestry contributes to food sovereignty: communities produce more different food products themselves and don't need to buy everything. Also they can produce more healthy food, have decisive power about what they sow and eat and how it has been produced.
Especially in the pandemic, we see how important this food sovereignty is. In the cities, it became more difficult to obtain food while rural communities could sustain themselves.
Luz: Indeed, Analog Forests provide us with healthy and diverse food, and more: medicines, wood, even water. But is also promotes the sharing of ancestral knowledge, it connects people and is a powerful tool against gender unequality. It is part of the feminist fight.
What is feminist about Analog Forestry?
Luz: In the conventional agrarian production system, women are no more than labour force, an object to be used. Analog Forestry for us is an opportunity to also get involved in the production of healthy food and to regain ownerwhip over our own alimentation and health. It gives us more autonomy.
But it is not only technical. Analog Forestry – when it is being applied with a feminist perspective – can be part of the continuous feminist fight for land rights and the commons. Land is a common good that gives us power and that we need to live in dignity, so we need to fight for land titles, for access to and control over land. We have to negotiate in our families, which is possible for women through a process of empowerment.
What are the results so far of the trainings for the promotors and how will you advance in the future?
Carolina: The group of women I work with, four promotoras from Honduras, so far are sowing and learning on their parcels. But the most effect I see is in the women: they are more secure when they speak, they share more, and have a bigger capacity of analysing and solving problems. They are now learning how to work with their communities and pass on their knowledge.
Luz: Indeed, I want to be an example for other women and other families, show them that more sustainable production is possible. I want to use my forest as a demonstration site, a place to learn and exchange experiences. I want to motivate other women, share my knowledge. Promote food security and sovereignty, the use of medicinal plants, and restore water sources. I hope other families in my communities will join me and start their own Analog Forest.
Carolina: Analog Forestry is a way for communities to live in dignity. They will not be rich in economical terms, but rich in having a healthy environment (water, soils, vegetation), rich in well-being, physically and economically. It is a slow process but I'm sure this is the way to go forward!
Carolina Sorzano Lopez is a biologist from Colombia. Before starting her work as a trainer in Analog Forestry for the International Analog Forestry Network (IAFN), she worked for the environmental institutions of the Colombian government. Luz Marina Valle is a feminist farmer, trained as an engineer in agricultural and cooperative management. She is a member of the Fundacion Entre Mujeres (FEM) and a local promotor of Analog Forestry in her community.
Read more about this subject
All around the world small-scale farmers are using sustainable and inclusive methods to produce food. Working together with nature and each other, they provide their families and communities with sufficient and healthy food. But their production methods are under pressure from large-scale agriculture and the globally dominant system of industrial food production. Together with our partners, Both ENDS is trying to turn the tide in favour of sustainable, local practices that are mostly known as 'agro-ecological' or 'nature-inclusive'. Why are we focusing on these methods, ? Agro-ecological practices are climate-proof and inclusive and increase the opportunities for communities around the world to produce their food sustainably.
GAGGA rallies the collective power of the women's rights and environmental justice movements to realize a world where women can and do access their rights to water, food security, and a clean, healthy and safe environment.
News / 17 September 2021
About one in every six people, particularly women, directly rely on forests for their lives and livelihoods, especially for food. This shows how important non-timber forest products (NTFPs) and forests are to ensure community resilience. Not only as a source of food, water and income, but also because of their cultural and spiritual meaning.
News / 30 September 2021
About 75% of Kenyans earn all or part of their income from the agriculture sector which accounts for 33% of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, agricultural productivity has stagnated in recent years. Various factors have contributed to low agricultural productivity, including an overall decline in soil fertility because of the continuous removal of nutrients by crops; poor farming practices; land degradation and overuse/misuse of synthetic fertilizers that acidify the soil. The solution against these problems is: agroecology.
External link / 29 May 2019
Due to their role as environmental leaders, women are key actors in restoring degraded ecosystems. Within the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA), we work with local women's groups to promote the use of Analog Forestry.
News / 15 October 2018
Last September, approximately 30 women and men from community based organizations of Honduras and El Salvador learned the tool of analog forestry which uses natural forests as guides to create ecologically stable and socio-economically productive landscapes.
News / 19 August 2021
After many years of advocating for strong environmental policies at international platforms such as the UN, Kenyan Violet Matiru asked herself: "How does all this lobbying trickle down to our communities? How does this help our mothers who are still struggling with fetching water and cooking on wood stoves?" This is when she and her colleagues founded MCDI Kenya (Millennium Community Development Initiatives) and started to work with local communities. We talked to her about the historical and current power imbalance in water governance and her efforts to improve water governance in the Athi River basin, that runs all the way from upstream of Nairobi, through the city, into the Indian Ocean.
Rich Forests promotes a sustainable and future-proof production system and supports, among other things, the transformation of degraded land into food forests. With this, people provide for their livelihood, increase their income and at the same time restore soil and biodiversity.
Publication / 22 December 2015
Publication / 2 November 2021
Video / 12 September 2018
Latin American partner organizations of GAGGA launched the campaign "We, women, are water" in March 2018. This video was launched as part of this campaign, and emphasizes the role of women water defenders.
Video / 12 September 2018
The Latin American partner organizations of GAGGA launched the campaign "We, women, are water" in March 2018. This video was launched as part of this campaign, and emphasizes the importance of recognizing water as a common good.
Video / 12 September 2018
Latin American partner organizations of GAGGA launched the campaign "We, women, are water" in March 2018. This video was launched as part of this campaign, and emphasizes the role of women in the sustainable management of water in Latin America.
News / 3 June 2020
Last Friday, 29 May, it was announced that both the Fair, Green and Global Alliance (FGG) and the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA) have been selected as two of the 20 potential strategic partnerships of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the 2021-2025 period. Both ENDS is pleased that the Dutch government is seriously considering extending its support to these networks, as they show that cooperation on the basis of equality between grassroots organisations and NGOs throughout the world can continue to bring about change in the position of women, in respect for human rights and in making trade chains and financing systems sustainable.
News / 23 March 2020
In many places in Latin America, access to clean water is under great pressure from overuse and pollution, often caused by large-scale agriculture or mining. This has significant impact, especially on women. In March, with International Women's Day on March 8 and World Water Day on March 22, they make themselves heard and claim their right to water.
External link / 31 May 2018
It was minus 20 degrees Celsius when 2.000 women gathered at the main square of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, to voice their distress about the terrible smog in the city caused by three large power plants. Soon after, the women were invited to speak about the problem of air pollution with the minister of environment.
News / 8 March 2018
Women around the globe are at the forefront of addressing the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation, designing, implementing, and scaling up their own solutions. Socially defined gender roles often position women and girls as stewards of the physical, economic, and cultural well-being of their communities.
Blog / 8 March 2019By Tamara Mohr
Together with five women from the Platform Suace Pyvyvõhára, I travel to Mingã Pora in the east of Paraguay. Around 45 families from the indigenous Tekohá Suace community settled here in 2016. In Guaraní, Tekohá means 'the place where we are what we are'. They reside in tents - self-made out of waste materials - on a small strip of land with a soy field on one side and a nature reserve owned by the Itaipu company on the other.
News / 28 September 2018
We congratulate Joan Carling, member of the permanent commission on indigenous peoples of the UN, for having received the Lifetime Achievement Award as 'Champion of the Earth' by the UN Environment! This is the UN's highest environmental honor, given to six of the world's most outstanding environmental change makers once a year.
Event / 14 April 2018, 11:30
On the 14th of April, Both ENDS wil host a workshop called 'Small Grants, Big Impacts' on the annual Africa day in Amsterdam. The workshop aims to demonstrate that so called 'small grants funds' effectively deliver (devopment and climate) money where it matters, to people that need it the most. Large development banks, funds, donors and governments could use small grants funds as alternative financing mechanisms to make sure their money benefits people and their environment now and it the far future.