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of the forest has become a cultural heritage in these cooperatives, now marking the third

generation of cooperative members who have lived and worked in the forest.

The cooperatives’ expansion into new activities has been a two-edged sword,

presenting advantages and disadvantages. All the cooperatives studied have developed

management plans, begun logging and are involved in forest product commercialization.

Two of the cooperatives now own their own sawmills and process the logs they harvest.

The new activities potentially may provide increased employment, greater income, and

improved forest management for the cooperatives and the communities. On the other

hand, these activities pose greater risks for the cooperatives, and the institutional capacity

of the groups has not been sufficient in all cases. In some cases, new activities have also

caused division within the cooperatives.

Other challenges exist for the cooperatives as well. All the groups experience

serious difficulties in operating within the law due to bureaucracy and politics. Prejudice

against campesino groups and preferential treatment for commercial interests damages

the groups’ ability to thrive. The realities of business and operating in a market economy

put the cooperatives at a disadvantage, and isolationism between cooperatives prevents

sharing of experiences, which could potentially ameliorate the disadvantages of the


The past histories of these cooperatives provide lessons for the future. Damage

from the gorgojo outbreaks is a serious challenge for many agroforestry cooperatives.

Drastic change and upheaval may lie in the road ahead, and survival will be determined

by hard work, patience, and innovation. The challenges of today could become the

victories of the future. The history of the Social Forestry System and agroforestry


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