is farm forestry and how is it different?
Most definitions of farm forestry and agroforestry
focus on trees function, location or arrangement, and
emphasise the expected benefits of farm forestry/agroforestry.
In its National
Farm Forestry Program, published in
1995, the Federal Government defined farm forestry as "
the incorporation of
commercial tree growing into farming systems; it can take many
forms: plantations on farms, woodlots, timber belts, alleys,
wide-spaced tree plantings, and native forests";
and suggested that its advantages include improving "
agricultural production by providing
shelter for stock and crops. It also provides substantial environmental
benefits such as water table and salinity reduction."
(National Farm Forestry Program 1995)
The International Centre for Research in
Agroforestry (ICRAF) defines agroforestry as a "
dynamic, ecologically based, natural resources management system
that, through the integration of trees on farms and in the agricultural
landscape, diversifies and sustains production for increased
social, economic and environmental benefits for land users at
If only this was always the case. Unfortunately many agroforestry
and farm forestry projects fail to deliver the expected economic
and environmental benefits.
It is impractical to define agroforestry or farm forestry as
a predefined set of land use practices with attractive outcomes.
Nor is it possible to distinguish these forms of forestry from
industrial, corporate or government forestry by how they look.
It is not the scale, the planting pattern, the species or the
purpose of a forest that makes it a "farm forest"
or "agroforest". It is the ownership. Not just ownership
of the land or the trees, but ownership of the decision to do
it and how it is done. Farm forestry and agroforestry are simply
the result of a farmer's decision to practice forestry. What
it looks like and how it performs will depend on interests,
resources and opportunities facing the farmers involved and
their ability to design and manage their forests effectively.
Farm forestry is the commitment
of resources by farmers, alone or in partnerships, towards the
establishment or management of forests on their land.
Farm forestry and agroforestry are about
choicefarmers choosing to commit their resources to the
development and management of forests for, amongst other things,
commercial return. Farmers may establish and manage their forests
for any mix of the benefits that forests can provide. They may
place an emphasis on a single outcome such as timber production
or biodiversity, or they may seek to balance a range of benefits
in a multipurpose planting. Their priorities may also vary over
the farm or change over time. For example, a forest initially
established or managed for wildlife or land protection might
later be harvested for timber or valued for its beauty. Forests
on farms may increase agricultural production or displace it.
They might be sustainable and improve economic, social and environmental
capital or they might deplete these assets. The farmer, or their
partners, may or may not profit from farm forestry.
of farm forestry and agroforestry
and debate over the importance of definitions
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