WWF has just released the updated Living Planet Report which shows depressing figures on the impact that humans have on this planet. The living planet index shows that we have a decline in species populations of more than 50% since 1970. And this is caused by an ever increasing ecological footprint by us humans.
We are anticipated to have more than 9 billion people by 2050 and at the same time we are eroding the basis for survival; Functioning ecosystems that can provide us with food, fibres and fuel.
We have no choice but need to change our ways of producing and consuming.
On the positive side is that we have solutions. We just need to promote and use them.
Agroforestry is one important but very multi diverse and -dimensioned tool to achieve this.
WWF has set up meta goals regarding biodiversity, which creates functioning ecosystems, and for our footprint to guide us and secure that we produce and consume with in the planetary boundaries.
Functioning forest landscapes are key to this success.
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Also we should not forget that human have for thousands of years lived in integrated forest and agriculture systems. We see here a picture of forest cattle grazing in Sweden in the beginning of the 19th century. The forest were key to concentrate the flow of energy to the farms. In Sweden in the past as we still have in many other parts of the developing world the practice of shifting cultivation and fire was used. A way of releasing the nutrients accumulated in the forest to be used in crop production. At low pressure this can be sustainable practice, but as the population and pressure grows it becomes a unsustainable way of agriculture. Or should we actually say agroforestry
Since both these practices can be conceived as agroforestry systems using the following definition by FAO; Agroforestry includes ‘land-use systems or forms of technology where woody perennials are deliberately used in the same land management unit as agricultural crops and/or animals, in some form of spatial arrangement or temporal sequence, valorizing both ecological and economic interactions between the various components’.
Similarly we should keep in mind that only with large scale expansion of monoculture cropland you get a clear divide between agriculture land and forests. Often, however, the interaction is much greater and the boundary much less clear. The natural forest ecosystem and even individual trees in a landscape can serve ecosystem services such as regulating water, shade, pollination etc. For instance, one study showed that the pollination service provided by two forest fragments, totaling of 157 ha, translated into an ecosystem service to a value of around 60,000 USD per year for one Costa Rican coffee farm. Hence, the agriculture and forest nexus is vital and we need to explore the opportunities to find sustainable solutions. Hence, while monocropping systems fall short of the structural complexity of forest ecosystems, which are diverse, multi-stratified and functionally complex – agroforestry systems, although they are manmade, very well imitates these systems
By adding complexity in agricultural landscapes (i.e. increasing biodiversity), we can increase resilience. In the context of the ongoing climate change, resilience is of utmost importance as climate variability is bound to increase. Agroforestry systems, when practiced at scale, can enhance ecosystems through carbon storage, prevention of deforestation, biodiversity conservation, cleaner water and erosion control – enabling agricultural lands to withstand events such as floods, drought and climate change
WWF has also just finalized its forest strategy. It does not make any explicit reference to agroforestry but it acknowledges the need to work at all scales. We will need to find integrated solutions which does not compromise the rights of local people and their livelihoods but allows for free informed consent by communities to improve productivity of ecosystems. Hence we need top down interventions but which are locally informed and are presented as equitable “offers” which must be negotiable and even rejectable if the integrity of social and environmental sustainability is risked to be compromised.
Since we must not forget that an estimated 1,6 billion people are supported by forests and 300 million live in forests. An many more depend on natural resource management if we go beyond forests.
Let me continue with a few more recent and also more sustainable examples of agroforestry.
Illegal logging for charcoal production is one of the biggest threats to Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Africa’s first national park and World Heritage Site. WWF’s Ecomakala project supports people living in the surroundings of the park to plant trees in woodlots, providing an alternative and sustainable source of energy.
While the project mainly focuses on smallholders, it also supports larger landowners to establish plantations of around 10-20 hectares; these account for about 7 per cent of the total area reforested to date. Ecomakala has also run an agroforestry scheme, supporting farmers to grow cocoa – which thrives in shade – alongside trees. Fast-growing temporary shading plants are grown while the permanent shading trees become established.
To date, over 6,000 hectares have been reforested through the Ecomakala project: 5,571 hectares of woodlots and 912 hectares of agroforestry plantations. With the first commercial harvesting taking place in early 2013, the project is still in its infancy. But as the trees reach maturity, it will bring a range of social, economic and environmental benefits
Another example is the Sagarmatha Community Agro-forestry Project (SCAFP) which is a multifaceted community based conservation project initiated in July 1996 to address the issue of deforestation in the Sagarmatha region
The Project's goal is to increase forest coverage area and to strengthen local capacity for sustainable management of their natural resources through integrated conservation and development programmes.
Spread over an area of 1,148 sq km of the Himalayan ecological zone of the Khumbu region of Nepal, the Sagarmatha National Park (SNP) includes the upper catchment areas of Dudhkoshi and Bhotekoshi rivers and is largely composed of rugged terrain and gorges in the high Himalayas.
Here is a project with agro-forestry system which was established to develop this industry for smallholders in the forests near Cat Tien National Park. The project encouraged the local ethnic minority to plant cocoa under the canopy of the forest.
“Vietnam does not encourage to plan cocoa on mono-culture system, but inter-cropping with other shading trees,” said Tong Khiem, chairman of Vietnam Committee for Cocoa Development
The Atlantic Forest is one the most threatened ecosystems in the world. It also has one of the highest biodiversity and endemism rates. At the same time, about 120 million Brazilians live there. Agroforestry systems such as the one used to produce the organic cocoa is proving to be the most effective strategy to conciliate human sustainable activities and nature conservation," said Helena Maria Maltez, the Atlantic Forest Programme coordinator."Agroforestry systems can connect forested protected areas and allow plant and animal gene flow, increasing the ability of the population to survive in the long-term."
On the Philipines in 2013 a new alliance between the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the National Geographic Channel (NGC) was formed to aim to halt deforestation. “Agroforestry allows crops and trees to coexist, maximizing benefits. This increases land productivity, improves water recharge and minimizes erosion,” explained WWF’s Edgardo Tongson.Citrus, Cacao, Rambutan and Guyabano saplings to Isabela farmers.
Combined with a string of earlier corporate initiatives pulled together by WWF, this raises the number of planted agroforestry trees to over 40,000. The move aims to reforest Isabela’s Abuan watershed – a once-verdant forest which has since been converted to endless sprawls of corn and rice. Shielding the eastern face of Luzon for 340 kilometers and spanning 359,486 hectares, the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park is both the Philippines’ longest mountain range and its largest protected area. Over 150 endemic animal species – from the iconic Philippine Eagle and Isabela Oriole, to the critically-endangered Philippine Crocodile – slither, scuttle or soar above its vigorously-vegetated ridges. In turn, its forests provide water for an estimated 400,000 hectares of rice and cornfields. It is the country’s largest grain larder
With the Philippine population creeping towards an estimated 140 million people by 2040, WWF seeks to find pragmatic ways to strike a balance on land use, building formulas to sustainably produce more food and mitigate climate change. Together with NGC and its local government allies, WWF’s dream is to plant 50,000 agroforestry trees in the Abuan watershed by 2015
We need to see integrated solutions at landscape level and link agroforestry not only to subsistence but also to markets and income generation where feasible.
In Madagascar WWF is working in the Fandriana Marolambo landscape on which covers almost 200,000 hectares and consists of grasslands, savannas and forests. It is home to many rare and endangered species and has very high levels of endemism.
Here WWF works with a project that aims to find new and creative financing mechanisms and income generating activities which are compatible with conservation in this landscape, including agroforestry and the opportunities presented via fair-trade labelling
The ultimate goal is to make agroforestry and restoration, a long-term professionalized and profitable activity for the local communities.
In 2011 WWF produced the Living Forest Report with a number of chapters. It was made in collaboration with IIASA, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, based in Vienna. The figure on this slide is from chapter 1.
It is a bit complicated, but in short it says that if we do nothing but just go on with business as usual we will loose 232 million hectares of natural forest ecossytems by 2050 and have converted another 242 millon ha of natural forests into managed forests.
However we have a choice to change our behaviour and policies to go into another direction. WWF has set up a goal of zero net deforestation by 2050. The scenario “Target” describes this. We would be able to produce food, fuel and fibres by converting some 271 million ha of natural forests to managed forests to 2050, i.e. not plantations, but not allow any loss of forest.
So what does managed forests imply in regards to what they will produce in terms of non timber forest products. And what role can agroforestry play?
Agroforestry – A way to address many needs! by Håkan Wirten, CEO WWF Sweden
By 2020, humanity’s global footprint falls below its 2000 level and
continues its downward trend,
specifically in the areas of:
• energy/carbon footprint;
• commodities (crops, meat, fish and wood) footprint;
• water footprint.
By 2050, humanity’s global footprint stays within the Earth’s capacity to
sustain life and the natural resources of our planet are shared equitably.
By 2020, biodiversity is protected and well managed in the world’s most
outstanding natural places.
By 2050, the integrity of the most outstanding natural places on earth is
conserved, contributing to a more secure and sustainable future for all
Foto: Peter Roberntz , WWF
WWFs metagoals 2020 & 2050
Ygdrasil – Tree of life….…
• The tree that was the
universe according to
• Ask & Embla – the
• Tree of life in every
• Trees still important
in our culture