Interview with Juan Bronson, Izabal Agro-Forest, Guatemala.
Can only industrial monoculture forest plantations yield high returns? In this episode, we are going to challenge this paradigm of either returns or sustainability. We will do that together with my Guest Juan Bronson, Co-Founder, and COO of Izabal Agroforest S.A, Guatemala. Juan is a timber & agro-forestry operational manager and investment specialist with a long track record.
Background of Izabal Agro-Forest
Izabal Agro-Forest, S.A. (IAF) is an award-winning farm and timberland management company headquartered in Guatemala.
in 1989 IAF started establishing its first production forests. They started with rubber and teak. 3 years later in 1992 IAF has increased the number of tree species and also planted and managed threatened species like Rosewood, Mahogany, Tropical Cedar and Zebrawood.
In recent years IAF has strengthened its agroforestry component by also integrating fine-flavor cacao, vanilla, coconut, and avocado. But they did not stop there. In addition, they manage trials of flowering and aromatic species grown for distillation and the production of very valuable essential oils.
In 2003 this innovative plantation received the Guatemalan National Forestry Institute Award for the best hardwood plantation. And 2007 the plantation received FSC “smartwood” certification. In 2014 it was recognized by the International Timber and Trade Organization (ITTO) as one of the best plantations in Guatemala.
IAF as a company has grown beyond its own farm. Today, it is serving institutional and private clients in developing and managing bio-diverse forest and agroforest farms on their behalf.
- Juan describes his typical workday.
- We discuss the differences between conventional farms and agroforestry systems.
- Juan explains the challenges of plating Mahogani and how they have overcome the threat of the Mahogani Shoot-Borer.
- We learn what makes agroforestry systems interesting from an investor’s perspective.
- Juan describes measures to capture the value within the value chain for cacao, vanilla, timber.
- We learn about the innovation of planting a tonewood for growing tree species used in instrument building.
- Juan explains how our culture can learn from the principles of agroforestry.
- Juan’s answer to the leading question: Do only industrial monoculture forest plantations can yield reasonable returns? No!
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