Focali

Sections
Sharing the Land: Restoring Degraded Ecosystems and Improving Livelihoods Through Agroforestry

Photo: Matilda Palm

Sharing the Land: Restoring Degraded Ecosystems and Improving Livelihoods Through Agroforestry

This brief examines how agroforestry approaches – growing trees with crops, and sometimes with animals – can advance land restoration and conservation while also strengthening livelihoods. The brief has been produced through a collaboration between Focali and SIANI around the theme “Forests, Landscapes and Food Security”.

Roughly 24% of the world’s land area is degrading, including more than a fifth of the cropland and nearly a third of the forests – yet 1.5 billion people directly depend on degraded areas. Land degradation corrodes the three pillars of sustainable development: environmental, social and economic sustainability. This has made conserving and restoring land a priority in many countries, and an estimated 16% of the world’s land area is now improving. 
 
Still, much greater efforts are needed to protect vital ecosystems, preserve resources and ensure there is enough productive land. In some regions, agroforestry has been a key land restoration strategy for more than 20 years. It is far from the norm, however: a more prevalent approach has been monoculture reforestation and, separately, intensified production on croplands. While the goal is to optimize land use for maximum productivity, the effect may be to exacerbate sustainability challenges by growing low-biodiversity forests and isolating croplands from key ecosystem services. 
 
A 2011 assessment found that 1.5 billion hectares of degraded land around the world was best-suited for “mosaic restoration”, in which forests and trees are combined with agroforestry, smallholder agriculture, settlements and other uses. In densely populated landscapes where arable land is in high demand, complete reforestation may not be socio-economically feasible. In such contexts, and in poor communities, the agroforestry strategies that have emerged in the developing world, with their dual emphasis on arresting land degradation and reducing poverty and hunger, may be particularly useful. 
 
Download the brief (PDF, 2.4MB), a low-res version (PDF, 882kb – for very slow connections) 
 
This brief was produced through a collaboration between Focali and SIANI around the theme “Forests, Landscapes and Food Security”. The views presented are solely the authors’.
 
The brief was written by Marion Davis, of the Stockholm Environment Institute, and Matilda Palm, of Focali and Chalmers University of Technology, with contributions by Eskil Mattsson of Focali and Chalmers University of Technology, and Ekaterina Bessonova of the Swedish International Agricultural Network Initiative (SIANI).

 

Stepping up Swedish action on tropical deforestation - Dialogue on International Day of Forests

On the International Day of Forests we would like to invite you to identify entry points for Swedish actors who want to help reduce tropical deforestation. The event is organized by Focali, SIANI and ...

Focalis newsletter

Fill out your name and e-mail and press subscribe.