Logging a forest is the obvious and dominant manner in which humans have exploited forests. However, there are multiple examples showing there are other ways to derive value from forests.
The 20,000-hectare Corsican chestnut forest provides a most compelling illustration of a viable, productive 600-year-old model. Chestnut is endemic in Corsica, but it is from the twelfth century that the cultivation of chestnut becomes material. Corsica, which was then governed by Pisa between 1077 and 1299, incorporates Tuscan agricultural techniques. The tree benefited from plantation incentives from the fifteenth century. The mountain dwellers lived on cereal and livestock cultivation. The Governor, on August 28, 1548, signs an order requiring landowners and farmers to "plant four fruit trees each year, fig, olive, mulberry and chestnut, under a fine of three pounds each for each tree not planted." From that day forward, in the Deçà des Monts region (what is now known as Castagniccia), cereal crops disappear rapidly.
The chestnut forest of Corsica provides firewood, construction material; its chestnuts feed humans and a significant number of wild pigs from which Corsicans produce cold cuts. In addition to honey and mushrooms, the forest provides a constant and self-supporting means of producing material economic value.
This is what PRAXIS aims to replicate: define a sustainable ecosystem comprising a set of high-value productions, with limited maintenance; ecologically sustainable.
Examples of the productions PRAXIS is experimenting with or will in the near (* indicates experimentation already underway)
Manuka Honey *: high-value honey ($300 kg retail) with medicinal properties. Two varieties of Manuka (a.k.a. tea tree) have been planted but local alternatives exist and are being tried as well. (Myrtle is a cousin to the Tea tree)
Truffles: Melanosporum truffles are native to the region. France used to produce 800 metric tonnes per year. Now reduced to less than 100 tonnes per annum. In high demand and worth over $1300 per kilo.
Natural Assisted Regeneration: a low-cost, sustainable land restoration technique used to combat poverty and hunger by increasing food and timber production, and resilience to climate extremes. It involves the systematic regeneration and management of trees and shrubs from tree stumps, roots and seeds.
Forest Fruit Production *: Plant trees capable of producing fruits with limited or no human intervention. Such trees include whitebeam, Hawthorne, strawberry tree, seaberry tree, Saskatoonberry tree.
Mushrooms: Morels and other expensive types of mushrooms are known to be "seeded" into the forest floor. Systematic tests can be executed to create a self-sustainable crop.
Carbon sequestration and CO2 credits *: Maximize the carbon sequestration potential of the forest by planting trees which are better suited to the new climate conditions
This list is incomplete and an extensive set of complementary experimentations are under evaluation.
Some of the actions already underway:
Planting Atlas Cedars, better suited to withstand dryer and hotter conditions.
Forest fruit plantation - Strawberry tree protected by a plastic mesh intended to keep deek and boars at bay..
Saskatoon Berry (a.k.a. Amelanchier)