Agroforestry

Regenerating ecosystems and local economies

Poverty, population growth and conventional farming have put immense pressures on the land. While local communities often want to conserve their forests or regenerate pastures, they are generally too poor to be able to do so.


Agroforestry is a sustainable approach which restores ecosystems and local economies. Planting is mixed instead of the monoculture associated with conventional farming, and it generates abundant produce from the very first months, quickly sustaining the livelihoods of those living in synergy with nature.

 
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Sustainable land management

Poverty, population growth and conventional farming have put immense pressures on the land. While local communities often want to conserve their forests or regenerate pastures, they are generally too poor to be able to do so.


Agroforestry is a sustainable approach which restores ecosystems and local economies. Planting is mixed instead of the monoculture associated with conventional farming, and it generates abundant produce from the very first months, quickly sustaining the livelihoods of those living in synergy with nature.

 

Syntropic agroforestry

‘Syntropy’ means ‘increasing complexity’ – the opposite of ‘entropy’, or gradual decline. In nature, the more complex a system is, the stronger it is in resisting drought, floods and pests.

With syntropic agroforestry, land is regenerated by planting crops and trees in a carefully designed sequence, mimicking natural cycles to rapidly restore the land to health while providing food security and local self-sufficiency.

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High yield, high biodiversity, high impact

Trees are heavily pruned as they grow, keeping the system vigorous, stimulating intense growth while allowing light to reach other plants. 6-10kg of cuttings produced per m² are left on the ground to keep the soil moist and protect it from the sun and erosion, releasing nutrients as they biodegrade into fresh soil. Crops require no fertilisers and can go for long periods without being watered.


As the volume of soil grows, the land can support larger tree species that absorb more carbon. A mature agroforestry plot like the one pictured above looks much like forest, and provides the same benefits to the soil, the water systems and the wildlife.

 

A sustainable future

 
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A sustainable future demands that both economic and ecological problems be addressed at the same time. Conservation is not enough – so much tree cover has been lost already, with soil erosion and leaching at critical levels. Reforestation is not enough – people need to feed their families and earn a living.


Converting pasture and monoculture into productive agroforestry plots is a sustainable, long-term strategy which takes into consideration the needs of local communities, habitats and wildlife.


RAIN supports and promotes high-biodiversity, high-yield, high-impact agroforestry systems as a competitive alternative to conventional agriculture. This integrated system of land management can provide sustainable incomes while mitigating the consequences of climate change at both a local and global level.


As coffee farmer João comments:


“This system enabled us to reconcile all our desires. The regeneration of the forest takes place in a highly productive fashion, improving soil, water, and food production, while integrating we human beings into the natural system, and serving as a vehicle for community integration.”