Agroforestry: Multiplying Benefits from Forest Lands
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Agroforestry is a term for an ancient practice of growing trees and shrubs with crops and/or animals on the same piece of land used in last 50 years of more than 10,000 years of interactions between farmers and forests. Back to the history, this active stake was preceded by the passive one – hunting and gathering practices including the exploitation of forests for shipbuilding (Williams 2003 through Van Noordwijk & Coe 2019) which have created need for regeneration of forests at the first place.
The World Agroforestry Centre defines agroforestry as “a dynamic, ecologically based, natural resources management system that, through the integration of trees on farms and in the agricultural landscape, diversifies and sustains production for increased social, economic and environmental benefits for land users at all levels” (Leakey 2017). The evolution of the agroforestry meaning was summarized in the following World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) definition: “Agroforestry is a collective name for land-use systems and technologies, where woody perennials (trees, shrubs, palms, bamboos, etc.) are deliberately used on the same land management unit as agricultural crops and/or animals, either in some form of spatial arrangement or temporal sequence. In agroforestry systems there are both ecological and economical interactions between the different components” (Zomer 2009; Leakey 2017).
Agroforestry is a relatively new research topic and scientists have made great strides in recent years studying its economic, environmental, and social benefits (Munsell et al. 2018). Gradually deforestation, caused by exploitation, led to plantation forestry controlled by forest authorities. Exercising ambivalent relationship with farmers and tending to set apart some of the area, they have perceived agriculture as the major threat to forests although agriculture at that time still tended not to exclude trees and farmer-managed forests or plantations. As a consequence distinction between agriculture and forestry remained maintained till now on both national and international levels, although agroforestry seems to finally getting right position (De Foresta and Somarriba 2015). Agroforestry become, doubtless, besides agriculture and forestry one of the three principal agricultural land-use sciences (Wojtkowski 2019).
In the practice agroforestry encompasses the concept of on-farm and off-farm tree production in support of sustainable land use and natural resource management. The crops and livestock are either grown together at the same time or grown in rotation or sequences. Growing trees and crops/livestock in separate plots is also considered agroforestry, if materials from forest are used to benefit crops or animals or vice versa. However, these simple definitions are not picturing true character of agroforestry as an integrated concept which makes this unique system of land management capable of ecologically sound self-sustaining agricultural production. Thus, a second definition of agroforestry would be the integration of trees, plants, and animals in conservative, long-term, productive systems (Motis 2007).
Although agroforestry has potentials to be a successful form of land use and achieves increased production and ecological stability, it is not sustainable by default. It was noticed very early that wrong choice of species combinations, management practices, and lack of peoples’ motivation and understanding, agroforestry may indeed fail just like any other form of land use, and it will still be agroforestry in the objective sense of the word (Nair 1973). Beyond product opportunities and provision of ecosystem services (Torralba et al. 2016), the structure and function of agroforestry systems inherently reflect the regional and local nuances of landscapes, which largely circumscribe integrated land use (Zamora and Udawatta 2016).
Besides definitions which have ambition to become general, some regions in the world have their own, yet in simple terms, these are also talking about the same, just adding the adjective “intensive” to emphasize its capacity for more complete use of its fundaments – land. The Association for Temperate Agroforestry, AFTA defines agroforestry as “an intensive land management system, that optimizes the benefits from the biological interactions created when trees and/or shrubs are deliberately combined with crops and/or livestock.” The practice of deliberately integrating woody vegetation with grown species to benefit from the resulting ecological and economic interactions is making agroforestry distinguished from the wildcraft as the fundamentally harvesting (gathering) “fruits of nature” practice which might even occur in the same space. Thus, Temperate Agroforestry in USA is defined as: “Intensive land-use management that optimizes the benefits (physical, biological, ecological, economic, social) from biophysical interactions created when trees and/or shrubs are deliberate” (UMCA 2018).
Intentional: Trees, crops, and/or livestock are intentionally combined and/or managed to provide multiple benefits, in contrast with monoculture and a mixture of monocultures.
Intensive: Species combined in agroforestry are intensively managed (cultivated, fertilized, irrigated, pruned, and thinned, etc.) to maintain their productive and protective functions.
Integrated: Components are structurally and functionally combined into a single, integrated management unit tailored to meet the objectives of the landowner. This integration may be horizontal or vertical and its intended to Integrate multiple crops in a way to utilize as much as possible of the land productive capacity while remaining balanced with the resource conservation.
Interactive: Agroforestry utilizes and manipulates the interactions among components to get more yields.
Capability to maintain and increase production of commodities and services as well as increase productivity of the land in given agroecological conditions (flexibility), to reduce cropping system inputs and increase labor efficiency
365体育网站Capability to conserve production potentials of the land, e.g., to maintain fertility
365体育网站Adoptability to local farming practices
History of Agroforestry
Agroforestry is as old human activity as the agriculture itself. This practice was a dominant livelihood for many centuries in different parts of the world, especially under subsistence farming conditions in general and in particular in tropical areas. Written descriptions of the agroforestry practice date back to Roman times. Home gardening, a major agroforestry practice today and one of the oldest forms of agriculture in Southeast Asia, was associated with fishing communities living in this moist tropical region about 13,000–9000 BC. Forest gardens, called also agroforests or shrub gardens, that are still common for tropical zones of India, Mexico, Java, and Africa, are probably the world’s oldest form of land use and most resilient agroecosystem, originating from prehistoric times in monsoon regions (McConnell et al. 2003).
Agroforestry in European temperate zone started when domestic animals were introduced in forests for feeding around 4000 BC (Nair and Gordon 2008). Exploring the history of agroforestry, King (1987) states that in Europe, until the Middle Ages, it was common to clear-fell degraded forest, burn the slash, cultivate food crops for varying periods on the cleared area, and plant or sow trees before, along with, or after sowing agricultural crops (Nair 1973). Similar agroforestry practices were also utilized by Native Americans.
Agroforestry was formally outlined in the early twentieth century by American economic geographer J. Russell Smith in his book “Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture” (1929). Smith viewed tree-based “permanent agriculture” as a solution for preventing destructive erosion caused by cultivation of sloping lands. However, his contributions were largely overlooked. When public finally realized environmental consequences of high-input agriculture and forestry, the subsequent and more-inclusive farming systems research/extension development approach of the early 1970s, Green Revolution was employed to discover sustainable agricultural alternatives. Accomplishments of this effort, however, failed to address many basic needs of small-scale resource-limited farmers in the tropics, such as the essential timber and nontimber products derived from trees, including food, fuel, fodder, building materials, medicine, and income, as well as the ecosystem sustainability that trees maintain (Gold 2017).
To reach the poor farmers and those in less-productive agroecological environments with land-management problems such as tropical deforestation, fuel wood shortage, soil degradation (Dollinger and Jose 2018), and biodiversity decline (Udawatta et al. 2019) which were escalating, the search for strategies to address these problems has to be reoriented. Demands for the application of ecologically compatible management practices were justified with the scientific proofs that the adverse land-cover changes as associated with the removal and fragmentation of natural vegetation for establishment of agricultural and forestry enterprises and real-estate development. These proofs shifted focus on the age-old practices of combined production of trees, crops, and livestock on the same land unit, and appreciation of their inherent advantages was finally achieved. Social contracts between forest authorities and farmers that had emerged in the plantation establishment as “taungya” in Myanmar or “tumpangsari” in Indonesia offered hope for widespread use in restoring deforested and degraded lands (Van Noordwijk & Coe 2019).
Modern agroforestry, however, continued with an unequal development dynamic in different parts of the world. In the temperate regions, “modern” agroforestry had a slower evolution than in the tropics, yet the ancient practice of agroforestry was finally institutionalized for the first time. The International Council for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF) was established in 1977 with the headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. Agroforestry thus began to be recognized and incorporated into national agricultural and forestry research agendas in many developing countries during the 1980s and 1990s (Gold 2017).
General Principles of Agroforestry
Spatial and temporal heterogeneity. Considerable variation exists in agroforestry systems where system components can vary considerably in size, lifespan, and phenology.
Disturbance. In many agroforestry systems, some components occupying specific spatial territory are continually being returned to earlier stages of ecosystem succession (crops), while others are developing along much longer succession trajectories (trees).
Perennialism. The perennial nature of certain system components contributes to feedback systems which minimize nutrient losses and provide stability to soil chemical, physical, and biological properties.
Structural and functional diversity. In contrast to simple agricultural systems made of one crop, multifaceted agroforestry systems providing niches for a numerous organisms which increase vertical heterogeneity.
To utilize all its advantages, agroforestry explores trees and their domestication, tree–soil–crop interactions at plot level, the interactions between land, labor, knowledge and risk at farm level, human livelihoods at landscape scale, dynamics of tree-cover change in space and time global change and multispecies agroecosystems, the role of trees in agro-ecology, social-ecological systems at landscape scale, the multiple value chains that start with tree, crop and livestock production in landscapes, and the policy domains of forestry and agriculture in the context of sustainable development goals, responsible trade in globalizing markets, and global climate change (Van Noordwijk & Coe 2019).
It is multifunctional: it addresses more than one objective.
365体育网站Diversity of species can increase land productivity.
Diversity of habitats can improve animal welfare.
Diversity of habitats can increase wildlife.
Agroforestry can increase carbon storage and reduce runoff and nutrient loss.
365体育网站Agroforestry can encourage farmers to work together at a landscape scale.
The goals and objectives of the farmer
365体育网站The potential products/functions (e.g., fruits, nuts and nitrogen fixation)
The environmental suitability of species for the site
365体育网站The tree/shrub characteristics that influence their interactions with other components of the agroforestry system (e.g., growth rate, crown shape and rooting pattern)
365体育网站The origin (native/exotic) and availability of planting material
For example, if food production is the top priority, fruit or nut trees adapted to local environment. Since autochthonic or locally adapted species (plant and/or animal) and their varieties are already used by local communities (and have their space on local markets), these may represent the first to be considered for the new locally adapted agroforestry systems. Factors to be considered in their selection include estimation of their climate, water and nutrients needs, shade tolerance, competition with trees or other woody perennials from the production side of the value chain, while local dietary requirements and marketing potential is important from it placement. If livestock is included, species should be assessed against dietary needs and fodder availability in the new system. Of course quality, price, and availability of seeds/seedlings for the establishment of the system is crucial to define. If animals are to be a component of the agroforestry system, factors to be considered in choosing species (and quantities) of animals include also their reproductive material availability and price, desired products, interactions with other components of the system (Ramírez et al. 2019), and availability potential markets.
Agroforestry Applications and Practices Worldwide
Agroforestry is spread throughout the world, but the extent to which it is practiced varies from region to region. According to the definition of ICRAF, there are more than ten million km2 of agricultural land considered under agroforestry. Nearly a billion hectares of agricultural landscapes already have more than 10% tree cover and an estimated total of 1.6 billion hectares of land worldwide has the potential to be under agroforestry management in the foreseeable future (Nair and Garrity 2012).
A high percentage of tree cover is found in nearly all continents of the world. The highest is in Central America and Southeast Asia. In Africa percentage of tree cover is smaller, but the most widespread farming system in Africa is “theso” – called agroforestry parkland (scattered trees in crop land), which makes its agricultural areas still in large extent in type of agroforestry and Africa itself a “treed continent” in. The FAO Forest Resources Assessment Report has integrated since 2000 the assessment of trees outside forests, which consist mainly in agroforestry systems as well as tree systems in urban areas. Maximum areas of agroforestry are found in South America (3.2 million 2), followed by Sub-Saharan Africa (1.9 million km2) and South East Asia (1.3 million km2). Trees are an integral part of the agricultural landscape in all regions except North Africa/West Asia. Almost all agriculture territory of Central America has more than 10% tree cover, while 82% of South East Asian and 81% of South American agriculture is of agroforestry type. Significant proportion of land is also found under agroforestry in all the remaining regions excluding from North and West Africa registering proportions of between 0.21 and 0.27 of agroforestry (Pravesh Kumar 2014; Zomer 2009).
Europe and North America, each have more than 39% of agriculture area under agroforestry. The extent of alley cropping, silvopasture, windbreaks, and riparian buffers in the USA is 235.2 m ha (Nair and Nair 2003). Silvopasture is becoming an increasingly popular agroforestry practice in southern United States (Workman 2003). Agroforestry systems for fodder are also profitable in developed countries. Currently, the silvopastures and silvoarables are the major agroforestry practices followed in Europe.
Central America and South East Asia have more than 50% of agricultural land under more than 30% tree cover. In these areas, which have substantial cover of tree crops and “agroforests” the wider agricultural landscapes are also well stocked with trees. In all regions, however, the contribution of high tree cover agroforestry (>30%) to total agroforestry (>10%) is significant, the lowest being in south Asia where the proportion is 0.25. The abundance of sparser tree cover (between 10% and 20% tree cover) in relation to tree cover greater than 20% is high in some regions such as South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Northern and Central Asia, South Asia, and Europe (Zomer 2009365体育网站). Intercropping of trees and crops is practiced on three million ha in China.
Agroforestry systems are important sources of timber and fuel wood throughout the world in both developing and developed countries. Trees produced on-farm are major sources of timber in Asia (e.g., China, India, and Pakistan), East Africa (e.g., Tanzania), and Southern Africa (e.g., Zambia). The current area under agroforestry in India is estimated as 25.32 m ha (Dhyani 2013365体育网站) or 8.2% of the total geographical area of the country. Increasing wood production on farms alleviate pressure off forests, which would otherwise result in their degradation.
World is obviously increasingly interested in agroforestry after accepting that adaptations in providing livelihoods in future, due to climate change, as much as social and economy constraints are inevitable (Uthappa et al. 2017). Neither agriculture nor forestry separately seems to be ready for these changes in their traditional frames, while agroforestry that combines aspects of both, including the agricultural use of trees, might be a source of solution – alternative livelihoods capable of saving land as the fundamental resources of both productions and enable production itself, no matter if it is providing food, fuel, medicines, fodder, building materials, or a cash income from other services agroforests as specific ecosystems can provide. Therefore, range of traditional agroforestry practices established through the space and history of human kind serve as a model for meeting contemporary human needs (Rahman et al. 2017) .
Agroforestry practices come in many forms but fall into only two groups – those that are sequential, such as fallows, and those that are simultaneous (Cooper and others 1996, reported by Leakey 2017). Eighteen different traditional agroforestry practices have been recognized by Nair (1973), with an infinite number of variations. Traditional agroforestry systems (Nair and Gordon 2008) range from subsistence livestock silvo-pastoral systems to home gardens, on-farm timber production, tree crops of all types integrated with other crops, and biomass plantations within a wide diversity of biophysical conditions and socioecological characteristics (Zomer et al. 2009). Numerous traditional agroforestry systems exist around the globe, mainly through tropical and temperate regions. Each of them is territory specific responding to local environmental conditions, needs, and the local communities experience. Tropical agroforestry is dominated by alley cropping (hedgerow intercropping), homegardens, improved fallow, multipurpose trees on farms and rangelands, silvopastures, shaded perennial-crop systems and Shelterbelts and windbreaks while temperate Agroforestry practices could be mainly grouped within alley cropping (Wolz and DeLucia 2018), forest farming, riparian buffer strips, silvopastures (Orefice et al. 2017), and windbreaks. Several other specific systems also exist in the tropics, for example, apiculture with trees, aquaculture involving trees and shrubs, etc.
Beautification: Planting trees for ornamental purposes.
Boundary Plantings365体育网站: Trees planted along boundaries or property lines to mark them well.
Dispersed Trees: Trees planted alone or in small numbers on pastures or otherwise treeless areas.
Earthworks: Constructions made of earth, usually to conserve or control water.
Improved Fallows365体育网站: Areas left to grow up in selected trees in trees-crop rotation systems.
Individual Trees: Trees occurring alone, whether spontaneously emerging or planted.
Living Fences365体育网站: Fences in which the posts are living trees, or in which the entire fence consists of closely-spaced trees or shrubs.
Nectar Crop: Trees valuable as a source of nectar for honey bees.
Terraces365体育网站: Level areas constructed along the contours of hills, often but not necessarily planted with trees.
Vegetative Strips: Long, narrow areas of any type of vegetation, usually planted along contours for erosion control; may include trees.
Woodlot: An area planted to trees for fuel, or timber.
Although American and Canadian temperate-zone agroforestry nomenclature differs from that used in the tropics and Europe, five temperate-zone agroforestry practices are generally recognized worldwide. According to USDA (USDA 2012), the practices of agroforestry in USA recognized in addition to mentioned are so-called special applications: Working Trees can be used to accomplish landowner objectives such as production of bio-energy feedstock. Any agroforestry practice can be designed to incorporate special needs such as wildlife habitat, annual income, or carbon storage. USA classification is also in addition to riparian forest buffers recognizing riparian and upland buffers.
- Agrosilvicultural systems (crops – e.g., annual crops and vines – plus trees)
365体育网站Multilayer tree gardens
365体育网站Multipurpose trees in croplands
Trees for soil conservation and reclamation
Shelterbelts, windbreaks and live hedges
- Silvopastoral systems (trees plus pasture and animals)
Trees or shrubs on rangelands or pastures
365体育网站Protein banks (blocks or lines of trees or shrubs established and managed for fodder production)
Plantation crops with pastures and animals
- Agrosilvopastoral systems (trees plus crops plus pasture and animals)
365体育网站Homegardens involving animals
Multipurpose woody hedgerows
Apiculture with trees
Main agroforestry practices in Europe are silvopasture, silvoarable, forest farming, riparian buffer strips, and kitchengarden. Silvopasture (combining trees with forage and animal production) is the largest agroforestry practice in Europe, representing the 85% of the European agroforestry land use (Borremans 2019). It comprises forest or woodland grazing and open forest trees where trees can follow a distribution in isolated/scattered trees and/or line belts distribution (Mosquera et al. 2016).
Agroforestry kitchengardens are defined by the combination of trees with vegetable production in urban areas, also known as part of “trees outside the forest” concept. Close to 60% of kitchengardens have fruit trees and therefore are linked to agroforestry, leaving around 40% of potential area to use a woody component. Silvoarable definition is widely spaced trees intercropped with annual or perennial crops. Trees can be distributed following an alley cropping, isolated/scattered trees, and line belts distribution (USDA 2015). Riparian buffer strips are strips of perennial vegetation (tree/shrub and grass) natural or planted between croplands/pastures and water sources such as streams, lakes, wetlands, and ponds to protect water quality (Mosquera-Losada and Santiago-Freijanes 2016).
Benefits of Agroforestry
Local community managing respective agroforests, benefits either through their direct production or from deriving activities: harvesting, transport, sorting, processing, and marketing of the agroforests produce. Diversity of income sources supported by agroforestry is also important. Creating job opportunities in agroforestry value chains or with adding value to its products extend benefits even more – to the members of the community which do not possess land. The benefits can include increased land productivity, improved animal welfare, increased quality, and value of products. For instance, by laying hens in a woodland environment farmer reduces injurious and reduces proportion of eggs with poor quality shells by 1% (Bright and Joret 2012). Agroforestry can also help farmer to mitigate risks of their farm economies through diversification of income, which is a common strategy for smallholder farmers (Michon and de Foresta 1998).
Carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation (Mbow et al. 2014)
Reduce agrochemical pollutants runoff
Accumulate high amount of carbon (C) in soil profile through the availability of cover crops on the aboveground and belowground
365体育网站Improve soil productivity through biological nitrogen fixation, efficient nutrient cycling, and deep capture of nutrients (also to prevent nutrient loss, no matter if they derive from the natural fertility of introduced fertilization)
Aesthetic – Wildlife provide auditory and visual beauty, and recreational interest.
Social – Wildlife help provide a sense of place that attracts families, photographers, birdwatchers, hikers, hunters, and anglers (which might bring additional income).
Ecological –365体育网站 Wildlife diversity generally indicates high-quality habitat. Some animals provide soil aeration services, such as moles and ants; others disperse seeds and pollinate plants, such as birds and insects.
Economic –365体育网站 Wildlife can provide you with an economic return when you open your land to recreation (e.g., birdwatching, hunting, guiding, or agritourism). Indirectly, pollinators provide billions of dollars of pollinating services, and bats provide billions of dollars in insect “pest” control.
Future of Agroforestry
Garrity (2006) reported that agroforestry can indisputably materially assist to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through increasing on-farm food production and income contribute to the first MDG, which aims to cut the number of hungry and desperately poor by at least half by 2015. Such pathways include fertilizer tree systems for smallholders and expanded tree cropping and improved tree product processing and marketing. These advances can also help address lack of enterprise opportunities on small-scale farms and child malnutrition. Agenda 21 identifies agroforestry as one way of rehabilitating the degraded dry lands of the world. Agroforestry is also one of ways for improving land use, efficiently answering to shortages of fuel wood, cash income, animal fodder, and building materials in sub-Saharan Africa (Rocheleau 1988). The rate of return to investment in research on tree crops has been shown to be quite high (88%). Tree domestication and the commercial processing and marketing of tree products and services are new frontiers for agroforestry research for development. A major role is also emerging in the domain of environmental services, particularly the development of mechanisms to reward the rural poor for the watershed protection, biodiversity conservation, and carbon sequestration that they provide to society. Agroforestry research for development is contributing to virtually all of the MDGs. But recognition for that role must be won by ensuring that more developing countries have national agroforestry strategies, and that agroforestry is a recognized part of their development agenda (Minang and Duguma 2014).
Close to half of the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) strategies in African countries identify agroforestry as a strategic option for effective, efficient, and equitable REDD+ delivery. But most of the countries do not specify how and most are yet to deploy agroforestry in the context of REDD+. Agroforests and agroforestry can be direct targets of REDD+ programs, or indirect parts of the necessary conditions for success. Enabling the multiple benefits for REDD+ through agroforestry at national level may require considerable policy, technology, and institutional innovations. Further research that helps quantify the REDD+ and multiple benefits of agroforestry may help reinforcing supporting policy for agroforestry in REDD+ and climate change in general at both national and global levels (Buttoud 2013; Peter et al. 2014; Minang and Duguma 2014).
In light of SDGs Agroforestry contributes to No poverty and Zero hunger goals, but also to responsible consumption and production and life on land. This means that the importance of international initiative to promote agroforestry in 1977, when global center dedicated to agroforestry was created is even rising and its role in war against hunger, inadequate shelter, and environmental degradation is still actual.
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