Environmental services of agroforestry in Southern Africa: lessons, challenges and future directions uri icon


  • Although traditional farming systems in southern Africa encompassed a remarkable agro- biodiversity, this has been eroded over time through national and international policies that promoted monocultures and chemical inputs. Such policies have served as disincentives for adoption of low-input agricultural practices. Defo restation, overgrazing and cultivation of land unsuitable for agriculture are increasing at an al arming rate. As a result land degradation has increased, soil quality has declined, pest problems have increased, and yields of staple food crops such as maize have stagnated in many pa rts of the region. Agroforestry is one of the integrated natural resource management interv entions for addressing various environmental and social problems. Over the past 15 years, the International Centre for Research in agroforestry (ICRAF) has evaluated a range of ag roforestry options for soil conservation, soil fertility management, production of fuel wood, timber and animal fodder in southern Africa. The research has helped to establish a knowle dge-base on how agroforestry can slow down land degradation and contribute to biodiversity conservation and carbon sequestration. In this paper, we describe the state of current knowle dge on environmental benefits and services of agroforestry in the southern Africa region. We will also outline the challenges to scaling-up the adoption of agroforestry to maximize environmental services, and make recommendations for future research, development and policy

publication date

  • 2007