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Agroforestry & Reforestation

World Agroforestry defines agroforestry as the interaction of agriculture and trees, including the agricultural use of trees. It is a dynamic natural resource management system that aims to produce trees for timber, to supply diverse and nutritious foods, and to ensure the protection of the natural environment. Reforestation restores degraded forests to the original state.

Why is there a need for Agroforestry & Reforestation interventions in RFS countries?

Why is Agroforestry & Reforestation critical for building resilient food systems?

How are RFS countries implementing Agroforestry & Reforestation activities?

In Africa, the demand for food to feed rapidly growing populations is increasing the demand for arable land, leading to direct competition between the agriculture sector and Africa’s woodland and forest areas. Climate change and extreme weather events further impact the productivity of agricultural land, pushing farmers onto previously forested land in order to meet the food and energy needs of their communities. 

As demand for food increases, smallholder farmers are not only expanding land under agricultural production, but are intensifying unsustainable agricultural practices in order to meet demand. These practices ultimately lead to land degradation and declining soil health – it is estimated that 65% of arable land, 30% of grazing land and 20% of forests in Africa are degraded. This current pattern perpetuates a vicious cycle whereby soils become less productive, forcing smallholders to continue to expand into forested land in search of arable land, which leads to further degradation, loss of essential ecosystem services, a decline in agricultural productivity, and a loss of carbon sinks. 

In order to counteract the negative impacts of deforestation, the RFS programme promotes agroforestry and reforestation interventions as critical components in achieving food and nutrition security and contributing to global environment benefits. Integrating trees into agricultural landscapes and planning land use around forest ecosystems restores degraded land by increasing soil fertility, controlling erosion, improving soil water retention, and improve ground water quality. 

In addition to improving crop yields, the rehabilitation and planting of forests provides local communities with access to diversified food and non-food products that contribute to food nutrition and security and generate new streams of income. When it comes to climate change mitigation, agroforestry and reforestation improve carbon sequestration while reducing agricultural contributions to carbon emissions. The rehabilitation and planting of forests also reduces the vulnerability of communities to climate change and increases the resilience of communities to climate shocks.

RFS country projects are implementing a variety of agroforestry and reforestation activities, including tree planting, installing efficient cookstoves, contour planting, hedgerow intercropping, and the promotion of non-timber forest product value chains. 

In Burundi, a country that lost 5% of its forest cover between 2001 and 2019, FAO is using the Farmer Field Schools to both raise awareness of the importance of forests and teach smallholder farmers agroforestry techniques, such as contour planting, to reduce soil erosion and improve soil health. In Burkina Faso, the RFS country project team is helping the Government of Burkina Faso to reach its Land Degradation Neutrality targets through promotion of agroforestry and support of forest farmers. In Ethiopia, RFS is helping local school environmental clubs plant tree seedlings within their school compounds while teaching students about the vital importance of forests. 

Explore the RFS Country Projects to see more examples of how RFS countries are implementing Agroforestry & Reforestation activities.

Stories from the Field

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Relevant resources

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