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This report is an output of the project Hardwood Plantations in the Tropics and Subtropics (GCP/INT/628/UK), funded by the United Kingdom and executed by FAO. The overall aim of this project was to contribute to regional and global planning of timber (specifically hardwood timber) supplies in the medium-term. This study covered the case study of teak in Central America.

In most Central American countries the plantation process began at the end of the 1970s and was promoted by various international co-operation projects that did research during the 1980s. In Central America, total planted area was approximately 225,000 ha in 1998, whereby 40,815 ha corresponded to teak plantations (18% of the total planted area). The use of teak in planting projects increased at the beginning of the 1990s. From the total area planted with teak, 58% were planted in Costa Rica, 32% in Panama, 6% in El Salvador and 4% in Guatemala.

When growing teak several aspects have to be considered. Temperature limits are an average of 25 and 28 degree Celsius. Teak grows well when annual rainfall is between 1,250 and 2,500 mm. The best yields have been obtained under 600 meters above sea level. Teak grows well in sandy and slightly clay, fertile, deep, well drained soils, with a neutral or slightly acid pH. It is not recommended to plant teak in steep slopes; compacted or shallow soils and; heavy textures.

Important elements in teak production in Central America are the reforestation incentive systems. Teak expansion will depend from the availability of financial resources that originate mostly from: PES (Payment for Environmental Services), different incentives and foreign investments.

In Costa Rica technological packages have been developed for establishment and managing teak. In the best sites, under intensive management plans, in rotation from 20 to 25 years, the species can have a MAI of 20 to 25 m3/ha/year. It is foreseen that well managed plantations will produce a total volume of 15 - 20 m3/ha/year, and 10 - 15 m3/ha/year of commercial industrial volume.

It is estimated that at least 100,000 ha more could potentially be planted with teak in Central America: 25% located in Guatemala, 25% in Nicaragua, 20% in Costa Rica, 15% in El Salvador and 15% Panama.

Recommendations are given to create a Central American Teak Growers Association; to invest in a Central American genetic improvement programme; to publish bulletins; to develop portfolios; to associate teak growers with the Teak 200 initiative; and to train people in the industrial aspects of teak production.

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