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cooperative worked sporadically with local sales during the 1980s and early 1990s. After

the Agriculture Modernization Law passed, all cooperatives were required to have an

AFE/COHDEFOR-approved management plan and operational plan to harvest timber.

Villa Santa began working on their first management plan in 1994 and finished the plan

in 1995 with some late assistance from ADECAF, an FAO/Netherlands project. The plan

specified an annual harvest of over 9000 cubic meters, but by law, the cooperative could

only harvest 1000 cubic meters per year without competing in open auctions for

harvesting contracts. The Villa Santa forest contains large areas of over-mature forest,

and the annual harvest limit perpetuated this condition. According to Villa Santa leaders,

the limits are unfair. “The annual harvest limits on the cooperatives are unfair because it

is the same for all groups. Our cooperative is large, and our forest is large. Is it fair that

a cooperative with 20 members and 1000 hectares harvests the same as a cooperative

with 250 members and 10,000 hectares? How can we manage our forest with these


The operational plans written for Villa Santa have never been carried out

completely because they specify harvests that exceed the limit imposed on the

cooperative. This increases the harvesting costs because the price paid for operational

plans is based on the volume to be harvested. The cooperative uses a bulldozer for

skidding the logs. It was being repaired when the author last visited Villa Santa, and

cooperative members were negative about the benefits of using the bulldozer. “That

thing just eats money. Lots of gas, plus it breaks down every couple of months. It

spends more time here being fixed than out in the forest.” High production costs for

timber are the result of down time and non-completion of operational plans.


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