What is agroforestry? Simply put, agroforestry is the collective term for the practice of integrating trees, crops and/or animals on farmland. There are many approaches to agroforestry varying from place to place. This makes the practice of agroforestry dynamic and adaptable to local requirements and conditions. So, what does an actual agroforestry system look like? Here is an example of such a system in Niger, Western Africa, showing trees and crops grown on the same piece of land. Trees combined with crops in Goulbi, Niger (Source: FAO website, http://www.fao.org/forestry/agroforestry/89998/en/)   Why is it important? There is a lot of talk about agroforestry but why should it matter to us? Such systems can provide us with multiple benefits compared to cropland without trees. For those of you keen on some numbers, in addition to providing all these benefits, these systems store up to 0.7Gt of CO2 equivalent annually.   How can agroforestry help halt deforestation? Demand for land to grow food is the main cause of deforestation. This land is used for agricultural crops as well as livestock production. At the same time, people depend on forests for their everyday activities such as fuel wood as a source of energy. Agroforestry systems can reduce pressure on natural forests by providing these resources and thereby help in reducing deforestation. To know more about trees and forests, how agroforestry can help reduce deforestation, and the secret to a good life, watch this 5-minute interview with Tony Simons below (Director General, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)):  

  What are experts at the conference saying about agroforestry? Experts presenting here at the international conference on Working across Sectors to Halt Deforestation and Increase Forest Area from Aspiration to Action have provided us with success stories from around the world on how agroforestry is indeed improving lives and tackling the challenging issue of global deforestation. Projects in Brazil, Colombia and Ghana have shown that agroforestry is a key forest management strategy useful for land restoration and provides ecological benefits such as improved soil nutrients, land productivity and biodiversity as well as social benefits of improving livelihoods of people through increased incomes from their land. However, there is a need for better coordination among all the actors involved e.g., local farmers, policy makers, governments, etc. Above all, the heartening message is that agroforestry works in practice and perhaps this can inspire more of us to jump on board as we collectively tackle deforestation.  ]]>