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Press release: New report from Agroforestry Network: Combat climate change and hunger with trees – agroforestry is a key approach to help achieve the global goals

Published on October 1, 2018 | Author: Linus Karlsson
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Can agroforestry – a land management system combining crops, trees and sometimes livestock – ensure that people have enough food and have the capacity and the tools to adapt to climate change? The answer is yes. Moreover, agroforestry offers a way to increase biodiversity and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

Agroforestry is a sustainable, proven and efficient land management system, according to the experts behind the report Achieving the Global Goals through Agroforestry, launched on October 1, 2018 in Stockholm, Sweden. The report is a result of collaboration between the members of the Agroforestry Network which brings together different actors, such as Agroforestry Sverige, Focali, NIRAS, SIANI, SLU Global, SwedBio at Stockholm Resilience Centre and Vi-skogen (Vi Agroforestry).

Despite proven benefits, agroforestry is still not receiving the attention it deserves and investments in agroforestry are insufficient.

The new report from the Agroforestry Network, builds on an extensive literature review of 1,000 scientific publications and other reports about practical agroforestry projects. The report presents environmental, social and economic benefits of agroforestry at the farmer, community and landscape levels. The authors of the report paid special attention to the benefits of agroforestry to food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and biodiversity.

The report presents evidence of how agroforestry can contribute to implementation of nine out of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Agroforestry has the strongest impact potential on poverty reduction (SDG 1) and hunger alleviation (SDG 2), as well as on climate action (SDG 13) and sustainable life on land (SDG 15). In addition, the report shows that agroforestry can contribute to other goals relating to increased gender equality, better health, increased access to clean water, sustainable energy solutions and responsible agricultural production.

“We have fewer than 12 years to reach the global goals. We need to use the solutions in order to contribute to multiple goals at the same time and maximize the benefit for all individuals, especially those living in poverty. Agroforestry is one of these solutions. However, agroforestry is still not implemented extensively enough, and is rarely emphasized in States’ action plans, strategies and budgets – including in Sweden. The world cannot afford to not make this a priority”, says Maria Schultz, head of the international department, Vi-skogen.

Other facts from the report:

  • Climate Facts:
    • Agriculture, forestry and other land uses stand for 21% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions stem from primarily deforestation, livestock production and soil and nutrient management.
    • Agriculture and forestry can also contribute to carbon sequestration. Cautious compilations of scientific studies indicate that different cases of agricultural land converted to agroforestry can annually sequester 13-41 tons carbon dioxide equivalents per ha, at least for the first 14 years after establishment.
    • The global mitigation potential, based on the assumption that 20% of the unproductive agricultural land is suitable for agroforestry, is 1.7- 5,1 billion tons carbon dioxide equivalents per year. Total annual global greenhouse gas emissions in 2016 were estimated at about 51.9 billion tons carbon dioxide equivalents.
    • An agroforestry farm with a diverse production can be more resilient to climate change than a farm without trees.
  • Hunger and poverty facts:
    • For the third year in a row, there has been a rise in world hunger. In 2017, around 821 million people were undernourished. 767 million people are living in poverty, whereof 80% live in rural areas and a majority work in agriculture.
    • Smallholder farmers with less than 2 ha produce 30-34% of the world’s food, and farms with less than 5 ha produce between up to half of the world’s food.
    • A farmer who starts to implement agroforestry can increases crop yields significantly, in some cases up to several hundred percent. Early studies also indicate that farmers using agroforestry systems earn more cash from improved yields and sales of tree products.
  • Biodiversity facts:
    • Forests hold more than 75% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity.
    • Turning forests into agricultural land is the major reason for biodiversity losses in tropical regions.
    • Agroforestry systems play an important role in mitigating biodiversity loss, as these systems provide habitat for a richer variety of species compared to agricultural fields with annual crops.

Read the report here:

Photo shows Benta Muga in Kenya practicing agroforestry on her farm, planting trees together with crops. Photo credit: Amunga Esuchi. Vi-skogen. 

For further information – kindly contact:
Helena Esscher, press officer Vi-skogen
+46 70 107 43 17

Linda Andersson, policy officer sustainable agriculture and agroforestry, Vi-skogen
+46 72 077 15 63