Our unique system

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With over 25 years of experience managing both exotic and native species trees, IAF has researched and experimented over 30 tropical hardwood species.  From these we’ve selected five primary species which demonstrate good biological growth, responsiveness to silviculture, soil/site aptitude and adequacy as an over-story crop.  These include:

– Genuine mahogany/ Swietenia macrophylla

– Rosewood/ Dalbergia Stevensonii

– Tigerwood/ Astronium graveolens

– Cocobolo/ Dalbergia Retusa

– Hormigo/ Platymiscium Dimorpandrun

As a shade crop we’ve carefully selected several strains of high-value, flavor-selected cacao varietals from Venezuela, Hawaii, Guatemala, Honduras and CATIE in Costa Rica.

Despite its resistance by traditional foresters, inter-cropping cacao and hardwoods is the only logical, not to mention responsible approach to timber investment, IAF founder Richard Bronson comments:

“From an economic point of view the shade overstory planting needs to be carefully designed to utilize suitable precious hardwoods,such as genuine (Swietenia m.) mahogany or one of the endangered Rosewoods, e.g. Dalbergia stevensonii, retusa or nigra, which tend to grow straight and have a limited crown with small leaves that allows a dappled light to penetrate. With mahogany you can plant at 4 x 4 m. intervals two years before the cacao and then slowly thin to 200 trees by age 15. Planting precious hardwoods is paramount to a savings account, where by age 25 the mahogany at 1.5 cubic meters per tree is worth more than the previous 20 years of cacao . Foresters need to work closely with new cacao growers, regardless of size, to insure a project’s future.  Even if the cacao is eventually damaged by disease, pest or weak markets, the hardwood will be the life jacket.”

Healthy cacao pod from an IAF farm

Healthy cacao pod from an IAF farm