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1.1 The Importance of Trees
1.2 Tree Products
1.3 The Role of Tree Management and Cultivation
1.4 Traditions of Tree Protection and Management
1.5 Coppicing and Pollarding
1.6 Traditions of Tree Planting and Cultivation
1.7 Traditional Agroforestry Systems
1.8 Tree Management Practices in Perspective

Rural men and women in many areas have long been involved in the conservation and cultivation of trees on agricultural lands and forested areas. Until recently, there has been a tendency to discount these indigenous activities. The main focus of forestry efforts has been on management of trees for environmental protection or for industrial timber production. The shift in emphasis toward forestry in partnership with rural people is, therefore, a significant departure from earlier perceptions, policies and practices.

In order to set present community forestry activities, both communally and privately organized, within the context of local spontaneous tree growing, it is necessary to review a number of indigenous tree management and conservation strategies. The relationship between rural people and the trees in their environment is generally complex. Many of the approaches used have been developed over long periods of time. Often they have emerged as responses to increasing, though sometimes subtle, pressures on the local environment. Their underlying function has been to ensure that locally-valued tree species continue to be available to rural people.

The extent to which people cultivate and manage trees varies throughout the non-industrial areas of the world. It depends largely on characteristics of local ecology, patterns of agricultural land-use, cultural traditions, local demands for wood and wood products, tenure rights and economic pressures.

In some societies, tree cultivation and management is a major feature of the way of life; in others, it has assumed a peripheral or even a negligible role. Depending on the intensity of the management approach, different strategies will be able to withstand more environmental stress than others. Environmental degradation and the depletion of tree cover is sometimes symptomatic of a lack of comprehensive traditional tree and environmental management systems. In many cases, it has been the result of the breakdown of traditional systems because of intense and interracting pressures.

Introduced innovations may be required where strong indigenous traditions do not exist. In heavily forested areas, and in some regions of the world where alternative resource-use strategies have been pursued, tree conservation and regeneration strategies may be largely absent. Similarly, pressures of poverty, population growth and insecure tenurial rights - among other factors - have sometimes precluded the development or retention of indigenous strategies.

Ultimately, rural tree planting programmes should be based on understanding any traditional or existing tree cultivation or management systems which these programmes may supplement, as well as on understanding what has made the introduction of new methods of rural tree management necessary in the first place.

1.1 The Importance of Trees

The world’s forests have an undisputed and vital role in sustaining natural and human environments. They protect watersheds, provide habitats for wildlife and help to stabilize otherwise fragile ecosystems. They provide many essential products for rural and urban dwellers. They also play an economic role, with the commercial extraction of timber and pulpwood producing significant amounts of national income and foreign exchange in a number of countries.

Trees provide wildlife habitats

In addition, forests provide a home and a means of livelihood for large numbers of people, both traditional forest dwellers and those who find employment in extracting and harvesting commercial forest products. Forests also play a vital role in agricultural production. Although shifting cultivation has been a cause of the deterioration of much forested land, when it is practiced in an environmentally sustainable way, the natural process of regrowth and regeneration of the forest restores the fertility of fallow land.

Although not as well documented, the role trees play outside established forested areas and reserves is also critical. Trees, dotted about the rural landscape, around houses, along field boundaries and roadsides, and in communal grazing areas, are seldom recorded in the formal statistics of forested lands. But for the majority of the rural population, living away from the immediate vicinity of forested lands, these trees have an even more significant role than the forests themselves. Therefore, policies and programmes intended to improve access to wood resources and other tree products must be based on a recognition that the trees which will be most useful to these rural people may not be found growing in the forests, but in their own backyards, on smallholdings and on communally held lands.

Useful trees in the backyard

In farmlands and grazing areas, trees also play a vital environmental role. They act as windbreaks, protecting crops from wind damage and the soil from erosion. Their shade helps to reduce the temperature of the soil. Tree litter slows down the run-off of rain, thereby protecting the soil and increasing the infiltration of water so that groundwater stores are replenished. Trees also redistribute nutrients, drawing essential minerals from the subsoil and making them accessible, through their leaf-fall, to other plants. In many countries, tree litter is collected in large quantities for composting and mulching in order to maintain soil fertility.

Trees have a valuable social function. They provide shade for people and animals in hot climates, and are sometimes a focal point for family and community gatherings and activities. There are many places where trees are grown and protected for their shade and beauty; sometimes they are treated as sacred.

1.2 Tree Products

Wood is the most widely used household fuel in non-industrialized areas of the world where supplying energy, in fact, constitutes the greatest demand for wood, far exceeding that of commercial timber. Wood is by far the most important energy source in many countries, accounting for up to 90 percent of the total fuel used in some of the poorest. In many countries, virtually every rural family uses it for at least some cooking and food processing and for heating. In many cities, charcoal and wood remain the predominant cooking fuels. Some industrial processes such as tobacco and tea curing, brick firing and beer brewing often rely entirely on wood for process heat. Restaurants, tea shops, bakeries and other commercial enterprises add to these demands.

The usual method of cooking

However, the dominant role of wood in rural energy supplies should not be allowed to obscure the fact that other traditional fuels are often important. Use of agricultural residues and animal dung is extremely widespread, though since it is poorly understood it is not given the attention it deserves. The result has sometimes been that the case for fuelwood programmes has been overstated because the contribution that other traditional fuels make has not been taken fully into account.

The dominance of woodfuel demand in quantitative terms has also tended to obscure the vital importance of other tree products to rural people. Animal fodder is perhaps one of the most significant of these, especially at certain times of the year when grass and other feed sources are unavailable. In arid areas, trees often provide regular supplies of fodder in the form of edible seed pods and leaves. During times of drought, these become especially important sources of animal feed.

A wide range of human foods are also obtained from trees and from forested areas. Some of these are extremely important in preserving the nutritional balance in traditional diets. They include edible leaves and pods, roots, fruits, nuts, honey, insects, and game. Trees may be a source of food condiments, such as spices, and sap from some trees is used to make wine. Mushrooms and other forest funghi are also collected for certain types of dishes.

Trees can provide fodder

Trees produce a large number of what are often referred to as “minor” forest products. The importance of these products should not be underestimated. They make a vital contribution to the needs and general living patterns of large numbers of rural people.

Mushrooms can grow on trees

Many communities rely on trees to provide fibre to make ropes, mats, baskets, snares, coverings, woven goods and even musical instrument strings. Trees are an important source of many herbal remedies and traditional medicines. Tannins and dyes extracted from tree bark and seed pods are used to cure leather and colour fabrics. Oil from the seeds of certain trees can be used as a substitute for paraffin in hurricane lamps. The leaves and twigs of other trees have good insect repellant qualities, are used to stun fish or serve as natural livestock dewormers. Some resins can be used as glues.

Basket making - a family business

Agricultural implements, bullock carts and boats are often crafted out of wood, and certain varieties of wood are highly-valued for their tool-making qualities. The trunks of some trees are hollowed out for water storage. African woods are used to make camel bells.

A boat crafted from wood

Trees also supply a variety of commercial construction materials. Building poles, for example, are widely needed for a variety of purposes. In rural areas, they are used in construction of many traditional types of dwellings; in cities, poles are used by the poor in constructing low-cost housing, and larger poles are extensively used for scaffolding and for props by the building industry.

Harvesting and distribution of these tree products is an important income-generating activity in many areas. Charcoal production and fuelwood vending, for instance, are a vital source of income for many poorer rural households. Other jobs are generated by pitsawing, operation of sawmills, woodworking, tree farming, and the gathering and selling of fruits, timber, resins, gums and other forest products both for cottage industries and for larger scale commercial concerns. The significance of small-scale rural enterprises which process forest materials is gradually becoming better documented. In a recent survey, FAO has shown that such enterprises are often one of the largest sources of off-farm employment and income. Further work is now in progress to determine the key characteristics of such enterprises and to formulate ways to enhance their economic contribution (FAO, 1985a).

The role of trees in the patterns of rural living is thus both complex and diverse. Focusing on one aspect, even such a major one as fuelwood, at the expense of others can be gravely misleading. So much of the fabric of rural domestic and farming life relies on trees that any diagnosis of the problems arising from the depletion of tree cover which does not take into account the full complexity of this dependence is likely to be inadequate.

1.3 The Role of Tree Management and Cultivation

Almost everywhere, a certain standing stock of different types of trees, whether deliberately cultivated or allowed to grow naturally, has been recognized as necessary by farming communities. Even in nomadic pastoralist societies, trees have traditionally played a variety of essential roles. Though pastoralists may rarely have planted trees, their traditional way of life was such that they did not usually deplete the supply in the territories over which they ranged with their flocks. Indeed, the grazing animals helped maintain the tree base by dispersing tree seeds over wide areas.

The many products and benefits which rural people derive from trees reflect detailed and sophisticated knowledge about their immediate environment. The assumption that traditional communities are unaware of the benefits provided by trees, and therefore need to be educated about the immediate consequences of the depletion of tree cover, is rarely accurate.

Local impacts such as the loss of fodder, shade, fruit, and other benefits are obvious. Although rural populations may not have a clear understanding or perception of the long term consequences of deforestation - particularly downstream consequences - their ability to name and distinguish a large number of species and to describe their characteristics demonstrates awareness of trees and the role they play in their own lives.

In some cases, rural silvicultural systems are highly sophisticated with considerable numbers of trees planted and well-developed techniques used for managing and harvesting them. Elsewhere, managing tree resources is more passive and relies on conservation and natural regeneration. Stability of the system rests on the fact that population pressures are low and that the forest’s capacity for regeneration is great enough to offset any damage done by the utilisation practices of rural people.

Where traditional societies have remained stable, they have generally been able to maintain the productive role of the tree resources on which they depend. Though traditional tree management strategies might slow or even stop the processes of environmental deterioration, the primary focus has usually been on the utility value of trees for household or community use. Some practices have resulted in developing elaborate agroforestry systems, such as home gardens, which have incorporated indigenous trees into sustainable production systems. Others have been more modest in scope and effect, based on the desire to retain at least some valued trees conveniently near the household.

1.4 Traditions of Tree Protection and Management

Restricting access to trees is one means by which individuals, households or kinship groups may assert exclusive rights to them. The use of the baobab in southern Niger, for instance, is defined by very old traditions which specify strict proprietary rights. In Sudan, palm trees may be subject to a complex system of fractional ownership defined by traditional laws of inheritance. In Western Sumatra, the decision to cut a valuable tree is made by the extended family (Fortmann, 1984).

A baobab tree - protected by tradition

Some communities have long protected specific trees because they provided a focal point for the community, occasionally because of their religious significance. In Nepal, formal management systems were developed by some communities over a period of centuries. These systems defined specific users’ rights to valued products from trees growing on common lands. The systems were as much a response to distributional demands as they were to growing scarcities. As some of the older systems broke down, visible recent increases in the rate of forest destruction prompted some communities to establish new systems (Campbell and Bhattarai, 1983).

Other groups of people with common interests in tree resources have also been responsive to the threat of growing scarcities. In the highlands of Guatemala, professional woodworkers have been a particularly strong force in pushing for tree conservation efforts. The Chipko Movement in the Himalayan region of India is a communal effort with active leadership from women, which has relied on the Gandhian technique of non-violence to protect trees from destruction by commercial timber concerns (Agarwal & Anand, 1982).

The Karen people of Thailand have customarily tried to contain swidden plot fires (Kunstadter, et al., 1982). Among particular tribal groups in Kenya, honey collectors are obliged to prevent fires when smoking out bees (Leakey, 1977); and in some areas of India, cutting down a tree may be considered unethical, especially if it yields products which are of use to the community. Among the Bora Indians of the Peruvian Amazon, there is a recognition that their system of shifting cultivation must be managed in a way which both reduces soil erosion and favours particular trees in secondary vegetation (Deneven, et al., 1984).

In addition to active tree conservation efforts, some local land management strategies have consciously matched demands on the land with its carrying capacity. In these areas, it is clearly recognized that overgrazing results in environmental degradation; the size and grazing patterns of livestock herds are therefore kept within environmentally acceptable limits.

Other strategies for managing tree resources have involved protecting and cultivating naturally germinating seedlings. Cultivators may leave certain desirable tree seedlings when weeding and even build barriers around them as a protection against grazing livestock. In parts of southern Mexico, farmers tolerate and protect indigenous leguminous trees, such as Prosopis, which provide edible pods, shade and enhance soil fertility (Wilken, 1978). Cultivators in southern Nigeria recognize the superiority of certain species in restoring soil fertility to fallow plots and encourage them to dominate the bush (Getahun et al., 1982).

A Prosopis providing fodder

A recently emerging management strategy has been to restrict peoples’ access to trees previously available to them. This approach is usually associated with changes in systems of land tenure and may be a response to worsening wood scarcities. In central Kenya, the collection of wood or of other products from trees growing on private lands has increasingly required the permission of the property owner, although until recently, trees and their products have been free goods (Brokensha and Riley, 1978).

1.5 Coppicing and Pollarding

Coppicing and pollarding are techniques which can be used in managing certain types of trees. Coppicing involves cutting the tree down to its stump and allowing it to regrow; it normally sends up a number of shoots instead of the original single stem. Pollarding involves cutting off the crown of the tree, leaving it to send out new branches from the top of the remaining stem; this also has the advantage that the new shoots are high and therefore more apt to be protected from animal and fire damage. Vertical pollarding is the close pruning of branches along the stem. Regrowth after coppicing and pollarding is vigorous because the tree’s root system has already been well established.

A variety of different pollarding, coppicing and pruning techniques have been reported in many parts of the world, for instance in Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, the Philippines and Rajasthan, India (Douglas, 1981; Wiersum and Veer, 1983; Ben Salem and Tran van Nao, 1981).

Pollarding - a rational tree management practice

Vertical pollarding


It has been reported that in the highlands of Kenya the pollarding of Grevillia growing on agricultural lands is common. Intense pollarding of these trees may be carried out 15 or 20 times over a period of 50 years. The trunk will continue to widen, and the stem will increase in height unless this is deliberately prevented by pruning at the top. Whenever the farmer decides that it is large enough or that he needs the money, the trunk is felled and is sold for timber (Poulsen, 1983).

What these techniques all have in common is that they permit a sustained yield of wood or fodder over a long period of time. The total lifetime contribution of a tree which is used in this way can be considerably greater than the volume it will produce if it is simply allowed to grow and is then felled.

The fact that coppicing and pollarding techniques are widely employed by farmers has often been overlooked. In some areas, however, it is clear that their use enables an overwhelming proportion of the fuelwood or timber needed by households to be obtained on a sustainable basis from trees growing on agricultural land. This has important implications for the design of programmes to maintain increased fuelwood supplies.

1.6 Traditions of Tree Planting and Cultivation

In many countries, rural people traditionally plant trees for a multiplicity of household uses. In Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated of all countries, it was found in 1983 that on average each household had planted or naturally regenerated 68 trees, of which 16 had been established in the previous year (Byron, 1984). In the area of Fatick, Senegal, it has been found that virtually all households had planted trees.

In Panama, fruit trees are planted on almost every small farm (Jones, 1982b). Nearly half of the farmers interviewed in the Valle Occidental region of Costa Rica said that they had planted trees as windbreaks (Gewald and Ugalde, 1981). In Peru, spontaneous private tree plantings account for around 30 percent of all trees planted, even though the government only sponsors large-scale reforestation. A survey in the hill area of Nepal showed that on the average each household owned 28 trees, around a third of which had been planted and cultivated (Campbell and Bhattarai, 1983). Of rural households in the Kakamega District of Kenya, nearly 40 percent maintain small nurseries and nearly 80 percent have planted trees on their land (van Gelder and Kerkhof, 1984).

Perhaps surprisingly, there are few reported cases where rural people have spontaneously planted trees specifically for fuelwood, except where they intend to sell it. In Kenya, for example, it has been found that people plant trees for fruit, to provide shade or ornament, to create windbreaks, or to mark out boundaries (Brokensha, et al., 1983).

In Malawi, large numbers of farmers plant trees, mainly for poles to be used by the family. Only 15 percent of the people interviewed in a study of tree planting practices planted trees for fuelwood (Energy Studies Unit, 1983). In spite of heavy demands for rural energy supplies, Indians living on Bolivia’s Titicaca plateau felt that trees were too valuable to be used as fuel; they used them mainly for house posts and for other objects of material culture (Barre, 1948).

Although trees are seldom planted specifically for fuelwood, there is still an awareness that they will help to supplement available energy supplies for the household. Trees which are planted for use as timber or as construction poles, for instance, must be trimmed in order to make sure that they grow straight; fruit trees must be pruned occasionally if they are to produce better quality fruit. These cuttings can be used as fuel. Building poles which have been replaced at the end of their useful life are also used as fuel.

In a few areas, however, there are established traditions that involve the planting of fuelwood for commercial markets. Around the Indian city of Madras, casuarina plantations were originally established in the late 19th century to provide wood for the railways, but were used for household energy when the railways were converted to coal. During the Second World War, when acute fuelwood shortages developed, local farmers seized the opportunity to plant trees for the urban fuelwood market. The practice still continues, and similar plantations also exist around other South Indian cities. In several areas of Java, farmers have responded to increased commercial fuelwood demands by planting large areas of Calliandra (National Research Council, 1983).

Trees have also been cultivated to provide numerous products for other specific markets. Tree products such as gum arabic, rubber, coconut, dates, palm oil, coffee and tea are vitally important elements in the economies of many developing countries. Cultivation of these trees is not confined to large plantations, as they also provide cash incomes and a means of livelihood for large numbers of smallholders and limited resource farmers.

Rubber - trees for a specific market

Commercial timber species are also cultivated by farmers. For many years the match-making industry in southern India has been based largely on smallholder tree growing. Some companies distribute free seedlings to ensure a steady future supply of wood. Sometimes trees are seen as a method of long-term insurance. In parts of Latin America, it is common for farmers to plant a few trees around their dwellings to be cut and sold for timber when money is needed. In Turkey, trees are traditionally planted to celebrate the birth of a female child as a kind of “down payment” on her wedding.

1.7 Traditional Agroforestry Systems

In many areas, rural people have combined tree growing with a variety of agricultural and pastoral activities on the same plot of land (Combe and Budowski, 1979; Lundgren, 1982; Nair, 1984; Weber and Hoskins, 1983). In general, the most widespread benefit from this type of systematic tree-pasturage-crop combination is the soil enriching effect of the trees.

An additional benefit is obtained from the protection against erosion. The total productivity of the land is also increased by the fact that these systems permit a supplementary or complementary use of different layers of the soil and of the space exposed to sunlight above the surface (Arnold, 1983).

The types of practices and their productive outputs vary widely. Cultivators in arid zones of Rajasthan, India, intercrop fodder and grain crops with Prosopis cineraria. In the case of the failure of their other crops, Prosopis becomes a main source of fodder; leaves and seed pods are stored for livestock in anticipation of lean periods. The wood is used for charcoal and fuelwood and for making agricultural implements (Paroda and Muthana, 1981).

Cordia alliodora is used as a canopy tree over coffee and cacao in the humid lowlands of tropical America. Its predominance is so great that it has been estimated to be the third most widely grown tree in some areas, even though it is not recorded in any statistics of tree plantations (Budowski, 1983). In much of the Sahel, naturally germinating Acacia albida is allowed to grow in fields in order to improve the soils (Weber and Hoskins, 1983).

Acacia albida - a useful tree

Where population densities are low and land is abundant, fallow periods can be long enough to allow shifting cultivators to practise a successful type of agroforestry. By leaving some trees in swidden plots and encouraging the growth of soil-enriching trees and plants, some shifting cultivators have played a direct role in maintaining local tree cover and speeding up the fallowing process. Among Lua cultivators in Thailand, 84 varieties of plants and trees were found in swidden plots, including 70 that provided food and 13 species with medicinal uses (Kunstadter, 1983). Swiddeners in Sumatra leave fruit trees and hiving trees for bees (Pelzer, 1948). Shifting cultivators in the Peruvian Amazon have been found to favour certain commercially valuable timber species in fallow plots (particularly cedar) in anticipation of substantial cash returns for their children (Deneven, et al., 1984).

Among the most elaborate systems of indigenous agroforestry are the “home gardens” of Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa.

Traditional agroforestry - the home garden

These gardens usually have a multi-layered mixture of a large number of food, fodder and wood producing species grown in close association. They are commonly grown in small plots located close to individual dwellings and are very carefully tended; frequently, they are also used for keeping poultry and small animals. Basically, home gardens imitate or recreate the multistoreyed structure and species diversity of forests; this allows a simultaneous combination of perennial and annual crops in a small area.

The diversity of species which are grown in home gardens results in a wide range of products. Because the crops have different biological cycles, a household is usually able to harvest some produce on a daily basis, even if in small amounts. On plots as small as a tenth of a hectare in Central America, perhaps 25 or more varieties of food plants and trees have been found, including coconuts, papaya, bananas and coffee (Wilken, 1978). A study of home gardens in Indonesia, which cover around 20 percent of the arable land on the island of Java, revealed 37 species of fruit trees, 11 species of food-producing plants, 12 medicinal species, 21 herb species, 18 vegetable species, 45 species of decorative plants and 47 species of plants used for fuelwood and for construction - all growing at a single site (Wiersum, 1984; Atmosoedaryo and Wijayakusumah, 1979).

A number of swamp or moist-land cultivation systems incorporating trees have much in common with home gardens. The chinampas system has been used in parts of Mexico for hundreds of years. Raised platforms are constructed, and sediments from the bottom of swamps or from specially constructed reservoirs are used to grow a wide variety of annual and perennial crops. Fruit and other trees which provide shade, support for vines and other products are planted along the edges of the platforms or are interspersed with plants growing on the platforms themselves (Gliessman, et al., 1981). A similar practice is found in the deltaic plains of Bangladesh where villages rest on groups of mounds as protection against seasonal flooding. Multistoreyed plants, shrubs, bamboos, palms and other trees are grown in these fertile alluvial soils (Douglas, 1981).

On the lower Tana River in Kenya, farmers plant a number of plots with different annual and perennial crops in order to minimize their environmental risk. Although a few plots might fail during a given planting season, because of the different agro-ecological conditions in each plot and the variety of crop demands, the likelihood of total crop failure is minimized. Usually, plots are set aside specifically for fruit, fuelwood and local construction materials.

Agroforestry systems have often developed in areas of high population density as a response to land shortage. If, however, landholdings become too small as a result of demographic, economic or political pressures, the limits of adaptability of the system may be reached and short-term solutions adopted. Trees which had been grown in a complementary relationship with other crops may be uprooted in order to make room for the crops necessary for subsistence. It has been found that in areas where average landholding sizes have substantially decreased, farmers often revert to the production of just a few staple crops such as cassava (Wiersum, 1984).

1.8 Tree Management Practices in Perspective

Traditional strategies for managing tree resources are dynamic by nature. They have developed as responses to particular situations, reflecting a variety of cultural, social, economic, political, ecological and demographic factors. Where they have survived successfully, they have often been able to accomodate the introduction of new agricultural crops, the growth of populations, the expansion and contraction of market opportunities for particular crops and other factors.

However, the fact that rural people have, in the past, been able to manage their tree resources effectively does not necessarily mean that they can continue to do so. Increasing economic, demographic and social pressures have contributed to the breakdown of traditional tree management practices in many areas. The more passive systems which rely principally on the natural regenerative capacity of forests and woodlands have been particularly vulnerable; in some areas they have been completely overwhelmed.

In order to understand the context for the successful introduction of rural forestry innovations, it is necessary to understand why people are constrained from planting and managing adequate numbers of trees in the first place. Equally and perhaps more important is an understanding of why natural forests and trees growing on and around farmlands, which formerly were able to meet the diverse tree-based needs of rural people, are no longer able to do so.

Table 1 Some examples of prominent agroforestry systems and practices in the developing countries


Prominent Systems

S.E. Asia

S. Asia

Mediterranean & Middle East

Eastern, Central & Humid West Africa

Arid & Semi-Arid West Africa

American Tropics


1. Commercial trees among crops
2. Fruit/shade trees along crops
3. Live fences
4. Shelterbelts
5. Taungya
6. Shifting cultivation systems
7. Intercropping in plantation crops (rubber, oil palm, coconut)

1. Taungya
2. Plantation crops + arable crops
3 Commercial trees and fruit trees with crops
4. Live fences + shelterbelts
5. Various trees on farmlands for productive functions
6. Various forms of shifting cultivation
7. Medicinal plants + agri. species

1. Olive + cereals (on terraces, “banquettes”, “cuvettes”, etc.)
2. Poplars along irrigation canals
3. Trees for sand dune reclamation
4. “Huertas” - small plots, irrigated crops + fruit trees
5. Aromatic, medicinal and fruit trees with crops

1. Taungya
2. Cacao/food crops/forest complex
3. Plantation crops (oil palm/rubber) and root crops complex
4. Coffee + banana
5. Mixed perennial crops
6. Gum arabic + millet
7. Shifting cultivation/bush fallow systems

1. Use of trees on farmlands for protective role (windbreaks, dune fixation)
2. Productive + protective role of trees on farms A. albida/Leucaena + agric. crop systems

1. Trees in perennial cash crops (coffee, cacao, tea)
2. Trees for organic matter and mulch with annual crops
3. Tree live fences
4. Windbreaks and shelterbelts
5. Trees as support for climbing commercial crops
6. Taungya
7. Shifting cultivation systems


1. Pasture in forest plantation
2. Pasture in secondary forests
3. Commercial trees in pastures
4. Fruit/shade trees in pasture
5. Fodder trees
6. Coconut + pasture

1. Pasture under trees
2. Plantation crops + cattle grazing
3. Fodder trees + shrubs
4. Fruit trees + commercial trees in pastures

1. Oak forest + grazing
2. Pig breeding + forestry
3. Rangeland improvement

1. Gum arabic + livestock
2. Plantation crops (coconut/cashew) + pasture

1. Nomadic/semi-nomadic/trans-human
2. Sedentary live-stock grazing systems/browsing systems
3. Fodder tree/shrub systems

1. Trees in pasture
2. Pasture in natural regeneration forest
3. Trees lopped for fodder
4. Trees used for browsing


1. Crops + grazing in plantations
2. Agri tree crops + grazing in forest plantation
3. Multipurpose trees with crops/animals
4. Integrated forming systems with agric. plantation crops (rubber, coconut, oil palm)

1. Plantation crops + arable crops + livestock
2. Agric. tree crop + grazing in forest

Rangeland management

1. Coconuts/other plantation crops + food crops + grazing
2. Coffee + banana + dairying
3. Horticultural complex systems

1. Forestry dominating (forest lands)
2. Agriculture dominating (crop lands)
3. Livestock dominating (rangelands)

1. Agric. plantation crops (coconut, rubber, fruit trees) with crops and pastures

Home gardens

Various forms of multispecies combination

1. Multistorey plant canopies in humid regions
2. Arid/semi-arid systems

Mainly in large cities

Various forms

Various forms

Various forms


1. Silviculture in mangrove forests
2. Agri-silvi-fishery
3. Trees on bunds in fish breeding ponds
4. Swidden farming
5. Fuelwood agro-forestry

1. Mixed perennial
2. Irrigation systems
3. Various site-specific systems
4. Fuelwood systems

1. New system in Morocco (spice plantation for erosion control)
2. Apiculture + forestry
3. Fruit trees in deserts
4. Mushroom cultivation in forest

1. Pastoral systems with corral farming (highland/lowland interactive systems)
2. Mixed perennial cropping

1. Oasis
2. Irrigation systems
3. Various site-specific systems

Mixed perennial

Source: P.R. Nair, Soil productivity aspects of agroforestry, ICRAF, Species for Energy Production, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., 1984.

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