As world population increases, the need for more productive and sustainable use of the land becomes more urgent. According to the United Nations, more than 7 billion people populated the Earth in 2011 and this number is expected to go up to 9.3 billion by the mid-century. To meet the demand for food by 2050, production will have to increase by over 60%. These figures, coupled with current problems borne out of past and existing non-sustainable land use practices, provide the case for changing the way we manage lands and our production of agricultural and tree goods.
Thanks to its multifunctional properties, agroforestry is part of the solution to addressing these issues, whether they be environmental, economic or social. Agroforestry systems include both traditional and modern land-use systems where trees are managed together with crops and/or animal production systems in agricultural settings. They are dynamic, ecologically based, natural resource management systems that diversify and sustain production in order to increase social, economic and environmental benefits for land users at all scales.
There is a growing body of scientific literature that demonstrates the gains accruing from agroforestry adoption. FAO recognizes these advantages and believes agroforestry can contribute to improve the environment and the lives of people.
Yilou, Burkina Faso. ©FAO/ Renee VanDis
A module on agroforestry was recently added to the Sustainable Forest Management Toolbox. The module provides an overview of agroforestry systems; it also describes how to identify the most appropriate agroforestry system and to design, adapt, establish and manage it. A section on the "enabling environment" is targeted primarily at policymakers, including national and local authorities. To learn more, click here.
FAO Headquarters is currently working on a new agroforestry program to strengthen the policy environment for agroforestry, as well as create new opportunities for stakeholders to upscale agroforestry adoption. We will keep users informed as the program unfolds.
FAO's agroforestry website has been revised to provide you with more information, in a more dynamic format. A great effort has been made to connect all FAO's initiatives related to agroforestry. Let us know what you think!
The Urban/Peri-Urban Forestry and Agroforestry group at FAO Headquarters thanks Dominic Garant for his contribution to our work and wishes him all the best in his future endeavours. Dominic was part of an internship program funded by the government of Québec, in Canada, which seeks to provide young professionals with an experience in an international organization. He helped us in policy program formulation, translation of documents and analysis of agroforestry policies. To learn more about internship or volunteering opportunities, click here.
Update from the field
Interview with: Alberto Bigi
Which countries are involved in the project?
FAO is currently implementing this project in Guatemala and Honduras with the support of the sub-regional office for Mesoamerica in Panamá.
Click on the questions below to learn more.
What benefits are expected to be achieved?
The program has two main objectives:
What kind of agroforestry systems are being implemented or improved?
The agroforestry systems promoted through the project have proven to be good options to increase productivity, improve soil and water conservation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These agroforestry systems constitute a transformation from the traditional slash-and-burn method of farming to an integrated production system that allow farmers to control soil erosion and water retention through growing of staple crops interspersed with native trees.
How many people participate in the project?
800 households will benefit directly from the program (400 Guatemala and 400 in Honduras). At least more than 55% of participants are expected to be women.
Between tradition and increasing challenges: future development of small-scale and community forestry in times of global change
Mr Simone Borelli