Using agroforestry to restore ecological balance, land health

The right trees can enrich landscapes and prevent soil erosion

The right trees can enrich landscapes and prevent soil erosion

Five years ago, a two-hectare piece of sloping land in Addis Ababa’s Gurara slum lay bare, allowing rainwater runoff to carry its topsoil into a nearby stream. But after trees were introduced on terraces and the land converted into a demonstration ‘bio-farm,’ it is now productive, with different high-value crops.

“I believe every problem has a solution; soil erosion, land degradation, and deforestation are major problems in the developing world, and one of the simplest way of solving them is by controlling the movement of wind and runoff by planting more trees,” said Getachew Tikubet, the founder BioEconomy Africa, the group that led the restoration of Gurara.

Ecological restoration using agroforestry will be a subject of discussion at the upcoming World Congress on Agroforestry.

Matilda Palm and Eskil Mattsson of the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden will present a study that identifies ecological restoration opportunities. They do this by analyzing how expanding agroforestry management in degraded land could restore productivity and ecosystem services in particular areas.

“In many geographical areas, the deterioration is currently at a near-catastrophic scale and the impact is huge, both in terms of food production and deforestation,” say the scientists. Shifts in global land use are mainly responsible for the loss of biodiversity, land degradation and decline in ecosystem services seen in many places, they add.

In an abstract to the Congress titled ‘Cultivating resilient landscapes – opportunities for restoring degraded and vulnerable lands with agroforestry systems,’ Palm and Mattsson say if managed well, ecological restoration using agroforestry can, in addition, help with climate change mitigation.

Their recommendations are based on comparative field research in Sri Lanka and Vietnam, which sought to propose practical solutions for the restoration of degraded land, with a focus on multiple ecosystem services.

In another paper at the Congress, Elie A. Padonou and co-authors will discuss a model where “climate-resilient” species are grown in suitable ecological zones, as a means of ecological restoration.

By Isaiah Esipisu

What’s a landscape anyway? Tony Simons, director general of World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) describes the historical and environmental angles of the landscape approach to natural resources management, in this video.

Edited by D. Ouya

Vigyan Bhavan & Kempinski Ambience

10 - 14 February 2014 Delhi, India
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