Definition of agroforestry

Alan Sibbald, Land Use Division MI002 at uk.AC.SCOT-AGRIC-RES-INST.MACAULAY-LAND-USE
Mon Aug 9 06:25:00 EST 1993


The definition of agroforestry provided by Euan Mason is undoubtedly too
narrow. There have been many attempts to provide a form of words that embraces
all possible systems, the one that I have quoted most recently is:

     "Today there is no divergence of opinion that agroforestry:

     - is a collective name for land-use systems involving trees
       combined with crops and/or animals on the same unit of land;
     - combines production of multiple outputs with protection of the
       resource base;                               
     - places emphasis on the use of indigenous, multipurpose trees
       and shrubs;
     - involves the interplay of socio-cultural values more than in
       most other land-use systems;
     - is structurally and functionally more complex than
       monoculture."
                                             Nair (1991)

[Reference:

 Nair, P.K.R., 1991. State-of-the-art of agroforestry systems. Forest
     Ecology and Management, 45: 5-29.]

This definition allows me, in speaking to audiences in the UK, to draw
attention to our hopes for agroforestry in terms of:

    - diversification "production of multiple outputs", particularly the
      production of quality timber (the UK currently imports around 90% of its
      requirements for timber and timber products but has supplies of softwood
      coming on stream); 

    - sustainability "protection of the resource base", also the need to attend
      to ecological diversity and nature conservation; 

    - reduction of agricultural production - through the impact of planting
      trees and shrubs on agricultural land (please note that this may be a
      temporary feature determined by politicians and unique to "developed"
      societies).

    - maintenance of rural populations "the interplay of socio-cultural
      values". With the current run-down in UK agriculture we must find
      land-using alternatives if rural polulations are not to be dessimated;

    - the use of silvoarable and silvopastoral (as defined for NZ by Euan
      Mason) systems.

It also allows me to underline the need for research on agroforestry in the UK
so that we can understand the processes by which agroforestry "is structurally
and functionally more complex than monoculture", the understanding leading to
the design of systems which will satisfy the above set of multiple objectives.

+---------------------------------------+-----------------------------------+
| Alan R Sibbald, Land Use Division,    | janet:A.R.Sibbald at uk.ac.sari.mluri|
| Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, |                                   |
| Craigiebuckler,   Aberdeen,           | phone: +44-(0)224-318611          |
| AB9  2QJ, United Kingdom              |   fax: +44-(0)224-311556          |
|---------------------------------------+-----------------------------------|
|     All views expressed are my own and may not reflect those of MLURI.    |
+---------------------------------------+-----------------------------------+



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