Multifunctional Shade-Tree Management in Tropical Agroforestry Landscapes – A Review

Multifunctional Shade-Tree Management in Tropical Agroforestry Landscapes – A Review


This article discusses the benefits of shade systems in the production of cacao and coffee crops, with a particular focus on the long-term cycle of cacao production.

Conclusions & Takeaways

Shade trees have been shown to improve functional biodiversity, carbon sequestration, soil fertility, drought resistance, and weed and pest control within cacao and coffee agroforestry systems. Within cacao plantations, specifically, the benefits of shade change as the plant matures, with less shade required for older plantations. The changing shade requirements of the cacao plant with age often lead to cacao "boom-and-bust" cycles. The authors promote the use of a variety of multi-purpose shade trees that can be pruned instead of removed as the cacao crop matures to mitigate the "boom-and-bust" cycles.



Tscharntke T, Clough Y, Bhagwat SA, et al. Multifunctional shade-tree management in tropical agroforestry landscapes - a review. Journal of Applied Ecology. 2011;48:619–629. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2664.2010.01939.x.


  • Agroecology, Georg-August University, Göttingen, Germany
  • Biodiversity Research Cluster, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  • Department of Plant Protection, Bogor Agricultural University, Bogor, West Java, Indonesia
  • Human Geography, Georg-August University, Göttingen, Germany
  • Ecology and Ecosystem Research, Albrecht-von-Haller Institute of Plant Sciences, Georg-August University, Göttingen, Germany
  • Tropical Silviculture and Forest Ecology, Georg-August University, Göttingen, Germany
  • Agricultural Economics, Georg-August University, Göttingen, Germany
  • Institute of Systematic Botany, University of Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland
  • School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
  • Mars Incorporated and Federal University of Western Para, Santarém, Párá, Brazil
  • Soil Science of Tropical and Subtropical Ecosystems, Büsgen Institute, Georg-August University, Göttingen, Germany
  • Environment Institute, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia