Main Topics

EURAF 2020 CONTEXT

 

Agroforestry, as a practice of integrating woody vegetation with crop and animal systems, benefits agriculture, forestry and related stakeholders with a sustainable land management, with multiple ecological and economic interactions. As such, agroforestry systems can be integrated with a set of practices to produce biological resources and sustainable methods of food, wood, and fiber production and provide a wide range of ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration, water regulation and habitat provision for biodiversity and landscape amelioration. While, at local scale, it can benefit farmers, landowners and nature conservation efforts, at larger scale, it can help the European Union to accelerate the deployment of a sustainable European bioeconomy towards the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as objectives for the Paris Agreement. However, this requires research proposals and results tested with silvoarable and silvopastoral agroforestry systems designed mixed with agricultural and forestry practices to demonstrate their management, production and profitability. Such knowledge should then benefit and reach end-users to facilitate the correct implementation of optimal and beneficial practices within a European bioeconomy development context.

Agroforestry, ecosystem services, landscape and rural development

 

  • Climate change (adaptation and mitigation)

Agroforestry is a diversified set of agricultural production systems that integrate trees in the agricultural landscape, which is often regarded as a strategy for both adaptation and mitigation to climate change. The inclusion of trees in agroforestry systems has a strong significance for carbon sequestration and therefore is an important and often underestimated contribution to climate change mitigation. Agroforestry can also support production in rural areas with improved resilience to climate variability as well as climate change, through intensification, diversification and buffering of farming systems. This session foresees positive outcomes of agroforestry from case studies or dynamic modelling on mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

 

  • Enhancing ecosystem services provision by agroforestry systems

Agroforestry systems provide a broad number of regulating and supporting ecosystem services, ranging from biogeochemical cycling, through maintenance of soil fertility and carbon storage, to watershed protection and biodiversity. However, as emphasized by several researchers, current understanding of agroforestry systems functioning and the best strategies to enhance the provision of multiple ecosystem services require deeper understanding. This session will examine the relationships between different ecosystem services as well as the management strategies to favor their provision in different agroforestry systems. Cases of Payment for Environmental Services (PES) would be encouraged.

 

  • Agroforestry, biodiversity, and wildlife management

Among several ecosystem services, agroforestry increases biomass, habitat and landscape connectivity, with potential to maintain higher levels of biodiversity in comparison to crop or pasture systems. Thus, spreading of different agroforestry ecosystems may be a viable complementary land use strategy for biodiversity conservation through small and diversified farms. The session defines the relevance of agroforestry systems for biodiversity conservation and enhancement, with general discussions and specific outcomes from case studies on positive relationships between plant/tree diversity and biodiversity — driven by either niche complementarity or the greater likelihood of including functionally-important species in more diverse assemblages.

 

  • Agroforestry and the landscape

This session focuses on options for a sustainable landscape development and management across spatial and temporal scales. It aims to highlight opportunities and synergies for: agricultural growth shaped through biodiversity and ecosystem conservation efforts; securing the full range of goods and services through natural resource management; providing new directions for meeting the production with sustainable development goals. Agroforestry systems and practices promise to play a major role in this framework. Session topics will include the analysis of agroforestry systems drivers, processes, and social-ecological impacts at landscape scales; the role of agroforestry in the landscape integrated management; the role in human health, limitations and knowledge gaps, as well as critical issues in local and regional planning through examples and case studies.

Agroforestry and policy for sustainable development

 

  • Agroforestry, quality food products and certification

The inextricable linkages between water, food, and other resources are pivotal in a fast changing world, since their demand is increasingly driven by economic growth, rising population, urbanization, and climate change. Sustainable agroforestry practices are often considered as a way to enhance food security, taking into account the often neglected social issues. However, much research is still needed to assess how agroforestry can contribute to food security, especially in the face of socio-economic and climate changes. More knowledge is needed on the relationship between agroforestry practices and food quality, especially as regard to the presence of bioactive substances and the nutritional characteristics of food. Furthermore, a credible certification on sustainable products is expected through voluntary market tools to demonstrate organic or good agriculture practices for food and sustainability for forest-based products. This session invites studies reporting advances in understanding the potential of agroforestry to contribute to food quality, health and security, while preserving and strengthening the environmental resources, and supporting the development of innovative certification and labelling schemes for a profitable and sustainable agroforestry.

 

  • Policy

A set of recommendations and changes of local, regional, national and international policies such as, the current and the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), are crucial to facilitate rural development. Farmers in the European Union receive support through several measures within the CAP, including direct payments to farmers (Pillar I) and payments related to rural development (Pillar II). Policies should also recognize the importance of certification to grant an important role of agroforestry products to enhance sustainable production, and support local rural communities with activities fostering landscape preservation. This session aims to assess the existing policy framework, and highlight the required changes and adaptations that can facilitate widespread transition to eco-intensive farming (including agroforestry practices) and contribute to support bioeconomy.

Agroforestry systems and innovations

 

  • Agroforestry and wildfire prevention

Fire frequency and fire-prone areas have increased in Southern Europe, especially in the Mediterranean Basin, because of recent changes in land use socio-economic and fire-policy factors, including increased wildland-rural-urban interface due to urban sprawl. Land abandonment, especially in mountainous regions, led to shrubland encroachment, thus, in turn, contributing to increase fuel loading and fire risk. Land management practices, particularly agroforestry, can contribute to reducing wildfire risk through the reduction of fuel loads/flammability and altering fuel continuity at the landscape level, while revitalising abandoned areas, integrating fire prevention principles, and offering new job possibilities. Contributions are welcome addressing the influence and the opportunity of agroforestry activities to better understand and manage wildfire risk, with an eye on sustainability and ecosystem service provision.

 

  • Agroforestry innovations toward innovative agroforestry systems

To optimize a functional integration of multiple roles to support agroforestry, a fundamental understanding of agroforestry innovations is required in order to ensure long-term land-use decisions. As alternative solutions and agroforestry components are tested and combined, functionally and structurally, new agroforestry systems are potentially becoming available and brought under the attention as new solutions to exploit new complementarities of agroforestry components and marketing alternatives. The session describes knowledge and marketing of agroforestry innovations that are fundamental for the design of solutions that can improve intensification of agricultural production, enhance complementarity of multiple biotic factors, grow better food, cut waste and improve financial margins and profitability.

To this end, this session emphasizes innovative agroforestry systems, tested through scientific case study development and/or adoption by rural communities, and highlights their potential and weakness to become useful and widespread agroforestry options.

 

  • Managing Mediterranean agro-silvopastoral systems

Traditional agroforestry systems are undergoing rapid transformation because of to socio-economic and climate changes. If properly designed and managed, agroforestry systems in Mediterranean areas can contribute to multiple goods and jobs related to agro-silvopastoral systems, including wood products, livestock husbandry, pastures and crops, while addressing climate-change adaptation and mitigation issues. Yet, emerging research is moving fast from climate-smart agriculture to climate-smart agroforestry, providing studies and solutions for shifting towards management practices economically and environmentally sustainable. Abstracts in this session are expected to address sustainable economic and ecological management of agro-silvopastoral systems in a context of global change.

Agroforestry, education, dissemination

 

  • Education, information sharing, and awareness raising in agroforestry

Education and dissemination are key elements to promote good practices that allow widespread implementation and adoption by farmers of successful agroforestry practices. Moreover, social engagement is an extremely important factor for the maintenance and success of agroforestry activities. This session will highlight the experiences and perceptions of European farmers, to identify the opportunities and the key barriers to agroforestry and, therefore, to understand the acceptance or refusal of agroforestry by farmers. This session will also show and describe potential practices that can help to disseminate, through improved solution/platform (ICT) providing farmers with information related to better agroforestry practices, such as crop/tree choice, spacing and market decisions. This includes experiences in developing an agroforestry system and describing voids to be filled when applying them, the description of need for technical assistance to small farmers, integrating research, experimentation and application. The session aims also at looking into initiatives that contribute to public awareness raising, as a crucial factor for increasing the demand of products obtained by agroforestry practices.

 

  • Agroforestry and rural tourism

Agroforestry offers great potential to increase biodiversity, landscape values and several ecosystem functions that can facilitate the fruition of natural landscape by human activities. Agroforestry can have an important role in ecotourism development and in keeping the wildlife component of eco-destinations alive and active, by preserving food sources and even nesting sites, growing high value food for tourists, restoration of degraded landscapes aesthetically attractive for tourism. This session intends to describe opportunities through rural tourism to establish economic activities that can be a funnel to financially support  agroforestry practices, while benefiting landscape.