FMNR in Timor-Leste: Trees grow ‘like children’

October 8, 2015

By Tony Rinaudo (World Vision Australia) and Amelia Xavier (World Vision Timor-Leste)

Manuel da Silva has had a wonderful experience as an implementer of Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) in his village of Fahiria, in the district of Aileu, in Timor-Leste. He likens the trees to children who must be considered and treated well so that they can grow up healthy.

“I want to share my experience with other places, not just keep it to myself,” he said.

Manuel is a passionate proponent of FMNR and his love of trees seems to be his primary reason for his involvement in the land regeneration practice, as he sees great value both for the environment and aesthetics of the area, which has seen severe deforestation and degradation.

Manuel is working with World Vision’s Building Resilience to a Changing Climate and Environment (BRACCE) Project in Timor-Leste, and has received training and knowledge that builds on his experience as a farmer.

World Vision Australia’s Tony Rinaudo, Agriculture technical specialist Pati (centre) and Manuel da Silva inspect timber cut from four six-year-old Acacia mangium
trees grown by Manuel da Silva.

(Photo: Amelia Xavier)

Patience pays off: Timber harvest yields a profit

Manuel’s involvement with FMNR is helping him to feed his family. He uses FMNR trees, predominantly Eucalyptus alba, as a nurse crop for high value trees such as Mandarin, Cinnamon, White teak and Philippines teak, Mahogany, Casuarina and Acacia mangium, in addition to foods such as cassava, mango, orange and pineapple species.

By inter-planting in this way, Manuel is ensuring that he will have a steady income stream in the short, medium and long term.

Manuel did some planting between his regenerating Eucalyptus alba trees and has recently harvested four Acacia mangium trees which he planted six years ago. From this he was able to cut 1.45 m3 of wood (104 lengths of 5 x 7 cm x 4 m).

The timber will not be sold, but rather used to build a small storehouse for a farmers’ association. This will supply storage for maize seeds and rice.


Manuel’s Timber Harvest

 Value of timber harvested  104 lengths X US $5.50 = $572
Milling costs  US $240
 Profit  US $332


Above (left to right): Manuel da Silva’s Eucalyptus terracing with inter-planting of fruit species, a newly growing FMNR tree, and thriving trees on Manuel’s land (Photos: Amelia Xavier) 

Other farmers have followed in Manuel’s footsteps to implement FMNR in their coffee plantations and eucalyptus, after seeing the results on his land. However, not all farmers in the area are convinced about the benefits of FMNR, and some continue the damaging practice of extensive bush burning.

Manuel’s timber profits are significant, especially given the very degraded site, poor soils, short time frame of six years and the small number of trees harvested. It is hoped these results will send a strong message to others about the financial benefits of FMNR and tree planting, leading to greater uptake of FMNR practices in Timor-Leste.

Tomas Soares is one of the farmers in Timor-Leste who has decided to implement FMNR in his coffee plantation, following in the footsteps of Manuel da Silva.

(Photo: Amelia Xavier)