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agroforestry as resistance among Bribri women

Posted: February 23 2022
Elsa Lopez, Bribri indigenous farmer walking in her field: an agroforestry ancestral system composed of cocoa trees, palms, timber-yield, fruit and medicinal trees. In her field pigs and horses grazing under the shadow of the trees. Campo de Diablo community, Watsi, Costa Rica

A new video report from Mongabay's ongoing series visits the Bribri people of Costa Rica where women are reclaiming power through agroforestry.

You can also read Mongabay's article* on Bribri womens' agroforestry work and how they've leveraged their knowledge and skills as a form of resilience.

* En Español

"In Costa Rica, agroforestry systems are known as fincas integrales, a seemingly disorderly system that reminds one of the creative mess of a tropical forest. Timber trees such as laurel (Cordia alliodora), cedar (Cedrela odorata) and mountain almond (Dipteryx panamensis) dominate these agricultural landscapes.

Under their shade grow fruit trees such as orange (Citrus sinensis), lemon (Citrus limonia), star fruit (Averrhoa carambola), soursop (Annona muricata) and sapote (Pouteria sapota). These in turn give needed shade to medicinal plants such as comfrey (Symphytum officinale), goosefoot (Chenopodium graveolens) and hombre grande (Quassia amara), used to heal respiratory diseases and snake bites, among other uses.

These plantings make the community nearly self-sufficient, as they provide food, construction materials, and medicines. 'In Bribri territory of Talamanca we found a complex multi-strata system with more than 30 tree species,' says Ricardo Salazar, agroforestry professor and researcher at the Costa Rica Institute of Technology. 'Each tree offers different services: timber to build houses and boats, firewood, fruit for food, and crops such as cocoa and banana that could provide extra income to the families.'"