Analog forestry is a unique method to convert degraded soil into productive land without the use of chemical fertiliser or pesticides. The result is a man-made forest with a high degree of biodiversity, which provides the same ecological functions as the natural forest, such as the recycling of nutrients, the filtering of groundwater and the capacity to store carbon.
Analog forests are developed and managed by local farmers. They start off in the first few years cultivating agricultural crops in between planted trees and bushes. When the increasing shade of the growing trees makes this no longer possible, the farmers change to crops that thrive in the shade – such as coffee and tea – and other non-timber forest products. The development of an analog forest occurs in stages; throughout these stages the forest will always provide valuable products for people to use and sell.
Dr. Ranil Senanayake from Sri Lanka developed the analog forestry method in the 1980s. Since then many degraded areas in different parts of the word have successfully been converted into productive forests.