More on the definition of agroforestry

fore057 at fore057 at
Sat Aug 14 22:51:14 EST 1993

In article <1993Aug13.163659.25387 at>, MI002 at uk.AC.SCOT-AGRIC-RES-INST.MACAULAY-LAND-USE ("Alan Sibbald, Land Use Division") writes:
>  1. I define a unit, in the context of the general Nair definition, as a
>     managed unit (an ecological unit?); i.e. a field in the UK rather than a
>     farm (a management or business unit). The trees and crops are intimately
>     mixed within the field, the whole farm need not have trees on it.

This is interesting.  I do not mean to criticise in any way when I say that
some use the term "agroforestry" when talking about what you would call "farm
forestry".  I certainly do not object to your definition (except maybe the
indigenous requirement), just so long as we're all talking the same language.
>  2. The Nair definition, which is intended to be global but which probably
>     emphasises tropical and sub-tropical requirements, says that agroforestry
>     "places emphasis on indigenous, multipurpose trees". In NZ you have chosen
>     to use exotic grasses and exotic trees each with a single product in view.
>     We will probably choose to do likewise in the UK but this contrasts with
>     tropical systems where importing exotics may be unrealistic because of
>     specialised management requirements, local resistance to new technology and
>     etc. In the tropics, the trees may have to supply fuel, fodder, fruits,
>     building materials and etc. and indigenous trees are more likely to fit the
>     bill. We in "developed", temperate areas have chosen for our own purposes
>     not to lay emphasis on indigenous, multipurpose trees, this does not, I
>     would argue, rule our systems out of the Nair definition of agroforestry.

>  3. Undoubtedly, farmers can and do diversify through the planting of woodlots.
>     I would argue that this is "farm forestry" and that, since the agricultural
>     crops and the trees are managed on separate (ecological) units, it does not
>     fit the Nair definition of agroforestry. We are looking for a different
>     niche for agroforestry in the UK where farmers have no tradition of growing
>     trees on farms. Agroforestry may "ease" them into becoming farm/foresters,
>     partly because they do not immediately lose income from the planted area,
>     partly because there may be shelter benefits for animals and crops and
>     partly because it offers additional diversity in production, landscape and
>     ecological terms.

It would seem that there is more scope, on financial grounds, to get farmers
interested in woodlots or shelterbelts in NZ that to get them involved with
agroforestry.  However, technology and markets change, so this may not always
hold.  The best data we have indicate that much more is lost in wood production
by holding tree stocking to levels common in agroforestry than is gained 
through extended grazing time during the tree crop rotation.


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