Imitating Natural Ecosystems through Successional Agroforestry for the Regeneration of Degraded Lands - A Case Study of Smallholder Agriculture in Northeastern Brazil
Converting land back into forest is not a viable option in parts of the world where limited available land is in direct competition for agriculture. In this setting, environmental services and functions must be restored through agricultural practices. Successional agroforestry (SAF) is used in Brazil to accelerateto restoration of degraded ladscapes, using agroforestry as an intermediary phase in forest restoration. Combining annual and perennial crops and native trees, SAF systems attempt to replicate structure and function of second-growth forest regeneratrion. Timing and species selection is important in replicating different successional phases of forest development.
Conclusions & Takeaways
The study evaluates the the effectiveness of SAF as a restorative agroforestry metho in two case studies in Northeast Brazil. One case involved a group of SAF trained farmers comparing an experimental plot with a successional poly-culture of 20 crop species, to one of castor bean monoculture. Over the course of 4 years, the successional trial produced twice that of the monoculture. The second case involved a single farmer who implemented SAF over the course of 10 years, and experienced initial difficulty, but managed to establish his farm to sustain a family of four, without the need of fertilizer or pesticides.
Schulz, J. 2011. Imitating natural ecosystems through successional agroforestry for the regeneration of degraded lands - a case study of smallholder agriculture in northeastern Brazil. Pp. 3-17 In: In: Montagnini, F., Francesconi, W. and Rossi, E. (eds.). Agroforestry as a tool for landscape restoration. Nova Science Publishers, New York. 201pp.
- University of Alcalá, Department of Ecology , Alcalá de Henares, Spain