The ORCA Centres and Topics

ORCA Centres

The eleven ORCA Centres will cover 22 topics related to organic agriculture.

 

Forests

Forestry can be a stand-alone occupation for timber production or be done in conjunction with other income generating activities (e.g. alongside agriculture). Organic forestry, a system that functions without the inputs of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, has tremendous potential to redefine best practice in forestry. In the Australian state Tasmania, approximately 1% of the state forest is harvested and regenerated annually without use of chemicals through an organic forestry program. The timber from such programs is often marketed as ‘eco-friendly’ to consumers and sold at a premium (though consumer demand remains limited).Carbon benefits can also be captured, providing additional income and environmental benefits.

It is clear that there is great potential for research on alternatives to chemicals used in traditional silviculture, use of indigenous trees and use of forestry as a tool for climate change mitigation. Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) collected in forests also serve as a major source of nutrition and income in many parts of the world. However, organic forestry is relatively undeveloped and there is no IFOAM Organic Forestry Standard. Only two certifiers have developed their own Organic Forestry Standards: Debio (Norway) and Naturland (Germany). In the absence of an IFOAM standard, sustainable certification schemes are often pursued by environmentally conscious stakeholders, such as the Forest Stewardship Council.

At this time there are no forestry research institutions dedicated in their entirety to this field of organics. This research void has likely persisted due to the absence of an IFOAM Organic Forestry Standard. There are in fact, however, several networks, institutions and organizations that dedicate some portion of their resources to the study of forestry that does not rely on chemical inputs. These relevant non-organic institutions include CIFOR and Forestry Tasmania.

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