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Policy briefings help policymakers get to grips with agroforestry’s potential and embed it in national or European policies and farming systems. EURAF Policy Briefing 30. Agroforestry & the draft regulations on Forest Reproductive Material and New Genomic Techniques 1 January 2024 The draft Forest Reproductive Material Regulation fails to mention agroforestry, and the particular need for high-quality planting stock when trees are planted at wide-spacings, with less opportunity for self-thinning and improvement-thinning. EURAF suggests that: EURAF also welcomes the provisions of the NGT Regulation, particularly when they are applied to the long list of diseases which are increasingly affecting…

Policy briefings help policymakers get to grips with agroforestry’s potential and embed it in national or European policies and farming systems.

EURAF Policy Briefing 30. Agroforestry & the draft regulations on Forest Reproductive Material and New Genomic Techniques

1 January 2024

The draft Forest Reproductive Material Regulation fails to mention agroforestry, and the particular need for high-quality planting stock when trees are planted at wide-spacings, with less opportunity for self-thinning and improvement-thinning.

EURAF suggests that:

  • every mention of “afforestation/reforestation” in the draft Regulation (pages 2, 7, 18, 11, 12, 17, 19) is replaced by “afforestation/reforestation/agroforestation”;
  • a definition (new bullet) of “agroforestation” should be provided in Article 3 Para 3 – i.e. “´agroforestation´ means the establishment of high-quality trees on land which remains in agricultural use – for the purposes listed in Article 3 Para 1(a – f), and where a detailed definition of agroforestry is given in the CAP Strategic Plans of each Member State;
  • Article 3 Para 1c should be reworded “restoration of forest and agroforest ecosystems”. 

EURAF also welcomes the provisions of the NGT Regulation, particularly when they are applied to the long list of diseases which are increasingly affecting European forests and agroforests.

Read the full document here


EURAF Policy Briefing 29. Agroforestry and Permanent Grassland definitions in EU Member States

1 January 2024

This Briefing focuses on the flexibility allowed to Member States to define permanent grassland to “include other species such as trees and/or shrubs which produce animal feed”.  This option has not been selected by 15 administrations (AT, BE-F, CZ, DK, EE, HU, HR, LT, LU, LV, MT, NL, PL, SK, SI).

Six administrations include the tree/shrub definition but on only part of their territories (BE-W, DE, FR, IT, PT, SE). Three administrations (BG, FI, RO) implement the definition over all their territory, but only if herbaceous vegetation “remains predominant”. 

Three administrations  (EL, ES, IE) implement the tree/shrub option over their entire territory even if herbaceous vegetation is not predominant, and a final administration (CY) remains uncertain.

Use of this flexibility by Member States is very important to farmers, since it determines their eligibility for CAP-Pillar-1 Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS).

Eurostat gives a land-cover (Corine/LUCAS) estimate of the area of PG in EU-27 of 54 Mha and land-use (FSS) of 48 Mha. 

High-resolution land-use information will become increasingly important as payments for environmental services, carbon farming and emission trading become an established part of farm incomes.

Read the full document here


EURAF Policy Briefing 28. Agroforestry and the Sustainable Finance Initiative

15 December 2023

This Policy Briefing responds to an EU consultation (17.10.23) on the Sustainable Finance Initiative taxonomy. It focuses on the need for agroforestry to be recognised alongside forestry and wetland restoration in Annex 1 of the Initiative (the “taxonomy”).

For the purposes of the SFI, “agroforestry” will describe the planned use of trees and shrubs on agricultural land. Given the correct incentives it can be a very attractive option for farmers and landowners who do not wish to change the legal designation of their land to “forest” through “afforestation”.

Agroforestry was recognised in Article 4 of the CAP Strategic Plan Regulation, and national definitions are given in the CAP Strategic Plans of all Member States.  EURAF suggests that agroforestry should be included in Annex 1 of the SFI  “Climate Delegated Act” as a new section titled “2.2 Agroforestry Establishment and Restoration”.

Technical screening criteria are suggested for: agroforestry plans, climate benefit analysis, guarantee of permanence, audit and group assessment.

Read the full document here


EURAF Policy Briefing 27 – Agroforestry & Adaptation to Climate Change

31 Jul 2023

Agroforestry is mentioned in the Adaptation Strategy or Adaptation Plan of only 11 EU Member States. This is despite extensive scientific literature on using agroforestry systems to help adapt agriculture and forestry to climate change. There is also a FAO guide on how to include both forestry and agroforestry in National Adaptation Plans. 

EURAF suggests that the Adaptation Plans of Czechia, France, Italy and Slovakia are examples of good practice, and provides guidance for other countries on how they can include agroforestry measures related to:

  • improved carbon sequestration;
  • reduced soil erosion, increased fertility and resource use efficiency;
  • greater resistance to droughts and floods;
  • diversified landscapes and biodiversity;
  • reduced pest and disease pressure;
  • maintained crop yields and animal welfare;
  • increased resilience to extreme events – including wildfires and storms;
  • improved economic diversity and benefits;
  • reduced groundwater and air pollution.

Read the full document here


EURAF Policy Briefing 26 – Agroforestry & the 2040 AFOLU net-zero target

23 Jun 2023

This Briefing is a contribution to the DG CLIMA consultation on 2040 climate targets. It suggests that, if the EU’s target of 3 billion additional trees  by 2030 were planted in agroforestry systems at the density of 150 (50-400) trees/ha, with 1 million ha planted each year to 2050, that a long-term average of 192 Mt CO2 yr-1 could be sequestered during the lifetime of the plantations. This is close to the current levels of LULUCF sequestration across the EU (212 Mt CO2e in 2021). However, trees grow slowly when they are first planted and the potential contribution of these agroforestry systems would take time to develop. Taking, for example, a generic agroforestry plantation at 150 trees/ha, a rotation length of 30 years, and 1 million hectares planted per annum across Europe from 2025 to 2050: it is estimated that sequestration would be only 2 Mt CO2 in 2030, but that this would rise to 81 Mt in 2030 and 188 Mt CO2 in 2050. 

Agroforestry can be carried out by planting trees in lines within parcels, or in hedges, windbreaks and copses at parcel boundaries.  It is thought that this scale of planting is economically feasible on most of the 169 Million ha of agricultural land which exists in the Europe (EEA-39) with zero tree cover, and that any reductions in agricultural yield would be moderate, and compensated by carbon sequestration and other environmental or animal-welfare benefits. 

This Briefing is being sent to the Agricultural Departments of all Member States: it is hoped they take advantage of the EU’s request that CAP Strategic Plans be revised to deliver on the new LULUCF targets.  Agroforestry programs are possibly the best option to achieve this.

Read the full document here


EURAF Policy Briefing 25. Options for FAO Reporting on Trees Outside Forests

30 May 2023

This Policy Briefing is provided as an input to the FAO review of monitoring and reporting methods for Trees Outside Forests to be used in 2030 Forest Resource Assessment (with the review scheduled for completion in 2025). 

EURAF recommends greater coordination with the UNFCCC forest definitions and the move towards wall-to-wall identification of “lands” in national LULUCF inventories (particularly in Annex I countries). EURAF also suggests that quantification of TOF should be based on the crown area of trees in agricultural land (croplands and grasslands) and in settlements.

The opportunity could be taken to move away from the minimum block size threshold (0.5ha) used in the FAO categories of Other Wooded Land and Other Land With Tree Cover. Country-wide remote sensing techniques are increasingly available to estimate the crown area of individual trees, tree lines and small copses, irrespective of block-size.  As an intermediate step, EU Member States are encouraged to contribute more completely to the TOF categories being used in the FRA-2025.

Read the full document here


EURAF Policy Briefing 24. Agroforestry & the Sustainable Carbon Cycles Communication

5 March 2023

EURAF welcomed the positive vote of the European Parliament plenary (‘own-initiative procedure – rapporteur MEP Bernhuber, EPP/AT) on the “Sustainable Carbon Cycles Communication”. The agreed text reinforces the importance of agroforestry and agroecological farming principles within carbon farming and stresses the need for targets to be included in revised versions of the CAP Strategic Plans.

EURAF however regrets that:

  • stress is not put on the updating of carbon farming and LULUCF targets in revisions of national Energy and Climate Plans – which are due to be sent to Brussels in draft form by June 2023;
  • there is no requirement for Member States to consult on these plans or to make them public;
  • Parliament failed to comment on the chronic under-achievement of Member States in meeting their tree planting targets, and the risk that this poses to achievement of the EU’s “Fit for 55” targets.

Read the full document here


EURAF Policy Briefing 23. Agroforestry Needs in EU Research Framework Programmes (2025-2027)

24 February 2023

This document is produced by the EURAF Scientific Committee as a short contribution to the EU consultation on the “past, present and future of European Research and Innovation Programmes 2014-2027 ”.

Building on past EU funded projects and scientific publications, a series of activities were organised ahead of drafting this document:

  • collecting feedback from experts affiliated to EURAF (through surveys);
  • reviewing the scientific literature, organised in line with recognised academic criteria;
  • identifying the knowledge gaps highlighted by this literature review; 
  • prioritising topics for future research and innovation projects – which would maximise the contribution of  AF to meet the EU’s agricultural and environmental objectives (i.e. EU Green Deal). 

EURAF’s Scientific Committee identified four priorities which may assist the future strategic orientations of Horizon Europe (2025-2027). Topics wre defined in line with the key objectives of the programme (i.e. maximising scientific, technological, economic and societal impacts), as well with the Food 2030 initiative and the FAO Science and Innovation Strategy. The priorities are: 

  • 2.1. Empowering the farming community to make a bolder contribution towards EU’s environmental and climate targets;
  • 2.2. Further develop a toolbox to strengthen the links between researchers, AF practitioners and communities;
  • 2.3. Improving EU’s food, fibre and energy self-sufficiency; 
  • 2.4. Accelerating the transition from ‘silo thinking’ to a multidimensional view of food production, while bridging the gap between science and practice.

Read the full document here


EURAF Policy Briefing 22. Agroforestry definitions in the new CAP

17 February 2023

There are many definitions of agroforestry, for example: 

  • 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 units as agricultural crops and/or animals, in some form of spatial arrangement or temporal sequence. [1]
  • a dynamic, ecologically based, natural resource management system that, through the integration of trees in farm- and rangeland, diversifies and sustains smallholder production for increased social, economic and environmental benefits [2]
  • all forms of association between trees and cultures and/or animal production on an agricultural parcel, whether it is in the interior of the parcel or on its edges [3]
  • the practice of deliberately integrating woody vegetation (trees or shrubs) with crop and/or animal systems to support the conservation, benefit from the resulting ecological and economic interactions [4].
  • land use systems where trees are grown in combination with agriculture on the same land (EU Regulations 1305/2013 and 2472/2022) 

For this reason the Commission asked Member States to publish their own national definitions of agroforestry in their CAP Strategic Plans, asking them to distinguish between arable land, permanent crops and permanent pasture.

Read the full document here


EURAF Policy Briefing 21. Landscape Features in the new CAP

30 January 2023

EURAF and ELO have collated the selection of Landscape Features made by Member States in their Strategic Plans for 2023-2027.  All MS except FI and SE implement at least one of the options for hedges, trees in groups, trees in line, isolated trees and forest margins, but the rules for tree crown size and block size differ considerably, and are often not clearly specified.  Agroforestry was one of the Ecological Focus Area options in the previous CAP, although little used by MS. 

If it is to continue to make a significant contribution to the rural economy and to GHG sequestration before 2030 then greater clarity is needed for farmers that existing managed and pruned lines of trees in silvoarable or pastoral systems will not detract from basic payments (BISS) in the new CAP, and that new agroforestry plantations, made with Pillar I or pillar II assistance will qualify for continuing BISS payments. EURAF stresses that national IACS/LPIS databases are most appropriate for estimation of the area of Landscape Features (Figure 1), and looks for clarity from MS on the size and density of small tree-blocks which are permitted on farms, without changing their designation from “agricultural” to “forest” land.

Read the full document here


EURAF Policy Briefing 20. Agroforestry & the Certification Framework for Carbon Removals

31 December 2022

EURAF welcomes the draft FCCR, and its initial proposals for robust certification of carbon removals including:

  • quality criteria;
  • verification and certification;
  • functioning of certification schemes. 

However EURAF feels that rigorous certification is only needed for a subset of specialised carbon farming schemes.  There is much more to be done, in the near term, to meet the aspirational target of the December 2021 “Sustainable Carbon Cycles Communication” that “by 2028 every land manager should have access to verified emission and removal data”.  EURAF believes that high quality emissions estimates by Member States (IPCC Tier 3) should be combined with detailed wall-to-wall representation of land use (IPCC Approach 3), and results should be available open source to farmers and foresters.  High-resolution databases of net emissions across the forestry and agricultural sectors will facilitate a target of net zero emissions in the integrated land sector by 2035. These improvements by MS should proceed in parallel with amendment and ratification of the FCCR.

Read the full document here


EURAF Policy Briefing 19. Agroforestry and the ABER Regulation

31 December 2022

Changes in the Agricultural Block Exemption Rules (ABER) for State Aid to agriculture, forestry,  fisheries and aquaculture were published on 14.12.22 as Commission Regulation 2022/2472. This replaces Regulation 702/2014, and EURAF particularly welcomes:

  • the extension of funding to the restoration of existing agroforestry areas, rather than simply new planting;
  • the increase in payments for establishment and restoration from 80% to 100% of eligible costs;
  • the increase in the eligibility period for annual premiums from 5 years to 12 years. 

These changes could put agroforestation schemes on a par with afforestation in countries like Ireland, Netherlands (Figure 1) and Finland, which finance forestry using national or European funds which are outside of the CAP.  There is concern, however, that these States are not required to provide any reporting at a European level on their forestry and agroforestry activities.

Read the full document here


EURAF Policy Briefing 18: Agroforestry and the EU Nature Restoration Regulation

30 July 2022

Most environmental NGOs strongly support the draft Nature Restoration Regulation – as does EURAF – but EURAF has concerns over some of the indicators listed, and use of the term “non productive trees” when applied to Landscape Features. Trees Outside the Forest can always combine productive uses of timber, firewood and fodder, with environmental and biodiversity benefits.  It’s bizarre for the NRR to suggest that Landscape Feature trees (particularly in grassland) should be grown ONLY for the environment.

Read the full document here


EURAF Policy Briefing 17: ENVI amendments fatally weaken the LULUCF Regulation

7 June 2022

The European Agroforestry Federation (EURAF) asks MEPs to vote against Amendments 23 and 54 (from COM ENVI) in plenary session on the revised LULUCF Regulation (7-8/6/22).  They remove the crucial commitment to carbon neutrality in the integrated “Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use” (AFOLU) pillar by 2035, and ignore IPCC guidelines from almost 20 years ago.

Read the full document here


EURAF Policy Briefing 16. Agroforestry for the Green Deal transition

2 June 2022

The Sixth European Agroforestry Conference took place in Nuoro Sardinia from 16-20th May 2020.  This note provides easy access to the abstracts, which have been collated into four TOPICS and 13 SUBTOPICS.  Many of the abstracts are relevant to the European Green Deal, and to a range of agricultural, forestry and environmental policies in the EU and globally.

Read the full document here