Vote for Eskil Mattsson in the World Agroforestry Congress Blog competition

Photo: Eskil Mattsson

Vote for Eskil Mattsson in the World Agroforestry Congress Blog competition

The Focali researcher Eskil Mattsson will travel to Delhi in February to attend the World Congress on Agroforestry, WCA. At the congress he will present his research from Sri Lanka about the agroforestry system "Homegardens". Read more about his research in his blog "Sri Lankan homegardens: Lush beauty, food security and carbon capture in compact packages" submitted in the WCA blog competition.

From the blog: 
I grew up with a big garden. The growing season in Sweden is short, but my mother was passionate about planting flowers and testing new varieties; we also had lots of fruits and berries, and as a child, I loved to pick them and eat them – and to earn pocket money doing yard work. 

I went on to become a geographer, and after the 2004 tsunami, I found myself in Sri Lanka, studying the storm’s effects on vegetation. During my visit, I discovered the local approach to “homegardens”: small, densely planted spaces with flowers, food crops and trees in multiple layers, creating complete mini-ecosystems. I was half a world away from my mother’s garden, yet the beauty and tranquility of the gardens, and the self-sufficiency they provide, took me back to my childhood. 

The colours in Sri Lankan homegardens are rich and bright, and the hot, heavy air is filled with sweet scents, sometimes spiced with the aromas of meals being cooked in the families’ kitchens. The lush vegetation attracts birds, butterflies, lizards and monkeys, and if you close your eyes, especially in wet-region gardens, the wildlife sounds could make you think you’re in the rainforest. 

Yet these gardens are not grown for the aesthetics alone. They provide fresh, organic, nutrient-rich food – a huge benefit to the families – and fuelwood as well. The gardens are also extraordinary in terms of biodiversity: though most include at least a few coconut, mango, banana and papaya trees, I’ve found all sorts of other plant and tree species in the gardens of rich and poor people alike. That’s part of the thrill of visiting Sri Lankan homegardens: you never know what flora or fauna you may encounter. 

From a research perspective, I see these homegardens as prime examples of multifunctional landscapes: spaces that combine agriculture, forestry and natural ecosystems. The “landscape approach” is gaining prominence as a more holistic – and effective – approach to food security, reforestation and overall sustainability than the single-sector interventions that have long prevailed in the development world. I strongly support that approach, but if it is to succeed, we need to start by realizing that people in Sri Lanka and many other countries have long built multifunctional landscapes. Yet modern agriculture, forestry and development practices have driven a shift to often-unsustainable, single-use landscapes...
Read more and vote: 
You can read the rest of Eskil's blog and vote for it (by clicking at the stars) at the WCA blog competition homepage. 

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