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22 May 2020

Agroforestry, biodiversity and ecosystem services – Creating a resilient and sustainable future by farming with trees

Agroforestry-related ecosystem services are many and go far beyond food production. However, most of the positive effects of agroforestry depend on sustainable management, for example choosing suitable tree species for the purpose and local circumstances. Successful agroforestry is primarily about ‘the right tree for the right place’, based on social, economic and ecological contexts.

By establishing biodiverse and multifunctional agroforestry systems a multitude of ecosystem services are protected and strengthened. This creates multiple benefits both for the farmers, for example in terms of secure and diverse yields and livelihoods, and for the surrounding landscapes in terms of pollination, water infiltration and recreation. Agroforestry systems are also more resilient to climate change and other disturbances than food production systems that lack trees.

Recommendations for policy and practice:

  • Increase the support from government extension to the development of agroforestry and other diverse production systems, rather than single-crop systems.
  • Support the conservation and sustainable use of local varieties of crops and trees, such as local fruit trees.
  • Promote agroforestry policies at the government level (national and county level) and policies that pave the way for agroforestry.
  • Incentivize investments in agroforestry by reforming agriculture subsidies for diversification, as well as policies that give farmers access to land tenure systems.
  • Support initiatives that include and empower female farmers.
  • Support initiatives that include and empower indigenous peoples and local communities, and their knowledge systems.
  • Promote the development of site-specific interventions informed by local knowledge, preferences, needs and constraints, optimising the benefits from the production systems.
  • Invest in research towards integrated solutions that address nutritional, climate and environmental challenges combined, including participatory and farmer-led research.


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