Marc Schober is the editor of Farmland Forecast an educational blog devoted to investments in agriculture and farmland.
Trees cover more farmland than you think
Oct 29, 2009
A recent study from the World Agroforestry Centre (WAC) revealed that approximately 2.5 billion acres, or 46% of world farmland, has tree cover of more than 10%. Over 27% of world farmland has over 20% tree cover. This comes as great news considering earlier estimates were as low as 120,000 acres of farmland having significant tree cover. Dennis Garrity, Director General of WAC in Nairobi said that farmers are being considerate to the environment, "The area revealed in this study is twice the size of the Amazon, and shows that farmers are protecting and planting trees spontaneously."
By having tree cover on farmland, the land can benefit in many different ways. Trees add value to almost all farmland and can even be crops themselves. Trees benefit farmland by providing:
- Shade for crops
- Wind breaks for wind erosion
- Roots for soil relief for water and wind erosion
- Foods including fruits, nuts, & coffee
- Materials such as rubber, wood, & resins
- Carbon offset
This report will certainly be discussed in December at the U.N. global-warming summit in Copenhagen. According to Time Magazine, if farmers were given more incentives for using trees in or around farmland, it could significantly help as a carbon offset.
WAC would like agroforestry to spread because it is so easy to practice in some areas. Tony Simons of WAC explained, "Whilst Western Europe has some 250 native tree species and North America has a larger set of 600 trees species-the developing tropics has a staggering 50,000 tree species to manage and utilize. The priority is to find the right tree for the right place for the right use." Where deforestation is occurring to make way for farm fields, farmers can practice agroforestry to still offset carbon from farming.
Future of agroforestry
Deforestation has been occurring for decades in the tropics, and to finally see evidence that trees are indeed still covering some of the deforested areas is great. Deforestation still does a lot of ecological damage though.
Farming is a carbon producing practice regardless of the crops grown, but by offsetting carbon output from farming by utilizing trees, it could make a difference. Trees have so many ways of benefitting a farm field, from an erosion stand point alone. Agroforestry should grow in popularity after the U.N. global-warming summit, where agroforestry incentives will be discussed.
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