Agroforestry: A Solution for Degrading Landscapes

Managing a land in which plants and trees are grown around or among the crops to create more diverse, productive, healthy, ecologically sound, and sustainable land-use systems is Agroforestry. It takes farming beyond food production and offers additional models by which we can intentionally integrate perennial plants into the farms, allowing greater diversification, an opportunity to increase income, and an improved wildlife habitat. This kind of farming involves a very low start- up investment, requires little machinery and infrastructure, incorporates a perennial zed landscape, and is one of the fastest ways to improve soil’s physical and chemical structure. It also holds the potential for integration with annual cropping systems.

Agroforestry is applicable in both traditional and modern land use systems were management of trees with crops and animal production system is done simultaneously. These are ecologically based, dynamic, and natural resource management systems that diversify and bear the production in order to increase social, economic and environmental benefits for land users at all the level.

Agroforestry has a lot in common with intercropping – the practice of planting two or more crops on the same plot with both the practices placing an emphasis on interaction between different plant species. Evidently, agroforestry and intercropping can result in higher overall yields and reduced operational costs. Another way is by planting crops which grow quickly in between rows of slower growing or taller crops. This maximizes all the available space increasing productivity and helps to keep the growth of weeds to a minimum. It is an invaluable growing method for smaller plots and especially raised beds.

Platforms for Promoting Agroforestry:

To assist people with their forestry and conservation needs, forestry assistance programs are available. The forestry programs assist people to sign up, inquire and approve specific conservation locally. These conservation programs were formed to improve natural resources on reserved lands. Forest owners have invested millions of dollars for the improvement of their forested properties. Technical assistance and cost-share to eligible landowners for forestry practices are delivered by programs such as Environmental Quality Improvement. Site preparation and planting of hardwood and pine trees, fencing to keep livestock out of the forest, forest road stabilization, timber stand improvement, and invasive species control are the assistance provided through the programs. Priority is given to projects with multiple management practices to be completed over a number of years. Programs like Conservation Resource Program aims to reduce soil erosion, protects the nation’s ability to produce food and fiber, reduces sedimentation in streams and lakes, improves water quality, establishes wildlife habitat, and enhances forest and wetland resources. It encourages farmers to convert cropland or other environmentally sensitive property to vegetative cover.

Dryland Agroforestry:

Around the world, dry lands are home to about 2 billion people; 90 percent of them live in developing countries. These are some of the world’s poorest people, many of them small-scale farmers and herders who depend on the natural environment for their food security, livelihoods and sole source of income. For these communities, the detection of these trees using space-age technology just approves what local people already knew about vegetation existing across the dry lands and is a vital resource for the people who make their homes there. A single tree in the desert can be the farmer’s source of energy, food and relief – shade from the hot desert sun.

Unfortunately, larger portion of the world’s dryland forests by now has been lost to deforestation, overgrazing and desertification accelerated by climate change. When these trees are lost, their benefits disappear, too. Individuals can no longer harvest them for firewood, livestock no longer have a peaceful resting place, and soil loses its vitality and blows away in the wind. As the land degrades, people are involuntary forced to move, forming refugees and fueling the already serious global migration crisis.

However, there are opportunities to increase the protection and restoration of dryland forests. This can include planting new trees, protecting the existing ones under threat, and allowing seeds and the root systems to regenerate naturally by guarding them until they’re hard enough to survive the teeth of scavenging goats and cattle.

Restoring degraded and deforested land by 2030

Forest restoration can restore many ecology functions and improve many components of the original biodiversity. Local knowledge of tree characteristics, planting of diverse species of ecological and economic importance, and integration of rehabilitation programs with regional development strategies are essential elements of restoration. Approaches for restoring functionality in forest ecosystems depend strongly on the initial state of forest or land degradation and the desired outcome, time frame, and financial constraints. Population is expected to nearly double by 2030, increasing the demand on already-scarce soil and water resources and exacerbating existing challenges. Degraded land can be restored to landscapes, forests or mosaic providing many benefits boosting the productivity, improving food and security, product biodiversity, increasing the climate change resilience. Restoration approaches should take into account the spatial distribution, abundance, and quality of residual vegetation, a strong indicator of the potential for natural regeneration. Reclamation may be the only viable option for restoring some levels of biodiversity and ecosystem services in former coal or bauxite mining operations, where abiotic factors, such as soil removal or toxic substrata, limit establishment and growth of native vegetation.

Awareness

With growing alertness of the economic costs of land degradation, leaders are adopting ambitious objectives to restore degraded forests and agricultural land. Forest landscape restoration initiated by the Bonn Challenge, in 2014, many countries adopted the New York Declaration on forests to restore 350 million hectares (865 million acres) of degraded forests and agricultural land by 2030. Financial and political support for executing restoration have emerged, like Initiative 20×20 to restore 20 million hectares (49 million acres) by 2020 in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the African Forest Landscape Restoration initiative (AFR100) to restore the 100 million hectares (254 million acres) of degraded forests in Africa by 2030.

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