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Key Benefits of Agroforestry

Key benefits of Agroforestry can be related to: Increased biodiversity Agroforestry systems support life around them by enhancing wildlife habitat and ecosystem biodiversity and resilience. They provide food and shelter for many species such as birds and insects and let plants withstand abiotic (temperature, humidity, salinity, soil pollution) and biotic stresses (pathogen and parasite resistance). Climate change, deforestation and land degradation cause a significant loss of biodiversity. By restoring, preserving and enhancing biodiversity and by improving microbial activity in soil, agroforestry systems lead to: Improved soil fertility and health Among key benefits of Agroforestry, one of the most important…

Key benefits of Agroforestry can be related to:

  • biodiversity
  • soil
  • climate change
  • economic growth
  • sustainability

Increased biodiversity

Agroforestry systems support life around them by enhancing wildlife habitat and ecosystem biodiversity and resilience. They provide food and shelter for many species such as birds and insects and let plants withstand abiotic (temperature, humidity, salinity, soil pollution) and biotic stresses (pathogen and parasite resistance).

Climate change, deforestation and land degradation cause a significant loss of biodiversity.

By restoring, preserving and enhancing biodiversity and by improving microbial activity in soil, agroforestry systems lead to:

  • more sustainable food systems
  • better health of livestock and fauna
  • higher quality of forage and food
  • social and economic sustainability of farmers

Improved soil fertility and health

Among key benefits of Agroforestry, one of the most important is related to soil.

Conventional and monoculture systems always considered soil fertility as something wedded to chemistry. By contrast, this approach is damaging to soil and productivity: it destroys living organisms, takes away nutrients and makes soils more exposed to erosion processes. 

Agroforestry can improve and preserve soil conditions and aims at:

  • Enhancing soil health and fertility leading to an higher productivity 
  • Producing nutrient-rich food 
  • Making soils able to filter and hold water and consequently farmers and local communities less vulnerable to floods and droughts
  • Keeping the soil form parasites without making use of pesticides which have high economic and ecological costs
  • Sequestering carbon by removing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it in the soil carbon pool

Climate change adaptation and mitigation

Agroforestry really fights the effects of climate change and global warming. Although we are able to get rid of all anthropic GHG emissions, their atmospheric concentration would be on the same level as today or even increase leading to the well-known increase of average global temperatures and climate change.

Since about half of global lands are used for productive purposes, storing carbon in soil through innovative practices such as agroforestry is a key strategy not only to stop climate change, but to reverse the process. 

Inclusive economic growth

Land-use change, including agricultural intensification and urbanization, over-exploitation, pollution, climate change and incoming species that compete with native flora and fauna are all damaging natural ecosystems. Once destroyed, they are often costly and sometimes impossible to restore. Poor people, notably in developing countries, are most at risk from the loss of biodiversity, since they often rely directly on ecosystem goods and services. 

Agroforestry keeps the land productive and by cultivating different crops farmers are less dependent on a specific product that could be hit by price and value variations negatively affecting households incomes. 

Furthermore, through agroforestry farmers produce nutrient-rich food directly contributing to the fight against starvation and malnutrition, mostly in children.

Sustainable farming

In the current state of agribusiness, farmers are moving to increasingly greater scales of production that seem to be the only way to shoulder the expensive equipment and chemical inputs needed to high-paying monoculture systems. Quite the opposite, farmers face a high economic risk because they are entangled in a system based on debts to get expensive equipment and factors of production leading to a gradual lowering of food quality and a consequent impact on consumers’ health.

Agroforestry is a sustainable system that meets the needs of farmers and landowners while providing environmental benefits. 

Agroforestry systems are more efficient than monoculture and conventional systems because they make farmers able to increase food production on the same plot of land without bearing the cost of external inputs such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Last but not least, consumers benefit from food that is richer in nutrients.