Some companies try to produce a single timber crop as quickly as possible, without considering what is in their investors´ best interests or in the best interests of the land over time. Because Panama Teak Forestry´s directors believe in whole land management for long-term value, we practice sound agro-forestry methods. We manage our properties as balanced ecosystems of plants and animals to provide maximum sustainable yields for investors while preserving the productivity and value of the company´s holdings. This results in healthy trees, a healthy environment, and healthy profits.
Panama Teak Forestry´s founders chose teak as the company´s primary crop because of its outstanding yield per hectare when properly managed. Due to its limited range (it grows best within 10 degrees of the equator), teak is not widely cultivated, and demand for this precious wood remains high. Despite the government´s support for reforestation programs, many teak ventures in Panama have failed because of unsound environmental and business practices.
Teak requires careful husbandry to:
In addition, timber companies must be able to show their customers throughout the world that they are not damaging the environment in the process of producing their teak.
The forestry experts who founded Panama Teak Forestry believed that a cost-conscious, forward-thinking company could reverse the damage caused by decades of slash-and-burn land clearing in Panama. They believed they could turn near-barren, eroding acreage into rich, productive forests capable of generating multiple income streams from timber and livestock. They believed they could be the exception: a debt free, efficiently run, environmentally compliant company that could both make a profit and make a difference. And they were right.
Since its founding, Panama Teak Forestry has been committed to helping restore Panama´s tropical forests through sustainable agro-forestry. An important goal in the director´s long-term plan is improving the soil of our timber properties. When timber stands are properly managed, the land gains value along with the growing trees.
When our first stand of timber began to grow, our engineers noticed that the formerly sparse grass surrounding the teak was coming in more lush and strong in the revitalized soil. Since many studies have shown the benefits of co-cropping timber and cows, cattle were the obvious choice to keep down the grass and other undergrowth around the trees. We began to introduce cattle onto our timber lands as soon as the trees were large enough not to be damaged by the browsing cows.
To avoid the problems associated with overgrazing, we have kept our herd small. Our cow-per-hectare ratio is much lower than is typical for ranchers focused only on maximum short-term returns from their herds. This prevents overgrazing and soil compaction problems; because there is always a layer of grass and loam under the cattle´s hooves, the point load exerted on the soil remains low.
Running cattle on teak property offers these benefits:
We have recently begun adding sheep to our agro-forestry program. Unlike cattle, which can damage trees younger than three years, sheep can be introduced onto a timber property when the trees have been growing for about a year. We have found the ideal arrangement is a mix of cattle and sheep. These animals eat a diverse array of ground cover. And because they eat at different levels, they work as a team to reduce the propagation of parasites. We are currently investigating adding chickens (the parasite control champions) to our livestock mix, for an even healthier ecosystem.
The keys to success in agro-forestry, as with many things in life, are good planning and proper maintenance. Animals do not damage the land; poor animal husbandry does. Teak does not damage the land; poor forestry management does. Our team proudly admits to micromanaging; careful attention to detail is one of the keys to the healthy growth of our timber stands and livestock.
We are committed to careful stewardship of Panama Teak Forestry´s unique agro-forestry resources to ensure the long-term success of our company and its investors.