” Plant, baby, plant ” Episode 1, Agroforestry
Today I am starting a series of articles about planting trees. Here we shall focus on agroforestry, next week we shall delve on the benefits of urban forestry and to conclude, in two weeks, we shall have a look at the Billion Tree Campaign.
If some have “Drill baby drill” as their motto, I think climate hawks and other climate concerned citizens should adopt “Plant, baby, plant” as theirs. Indeed, unlike drilling, planting trees really can be done everywhere.
Trees provide a valuable climate mitigation strategy that can be done by everybody. It has both local and global advantages. This series of posts will have a look at the local advantages.
To the US National Agroforestry Center, agroforestry ” intentionally combines agriculture and forestry to create integrated and sustainable land-use systems. Agroforestry takes advantage of the interactive benefits from combining trees and shrubs with crops and/or livestock. “
Recent articles in both Le Figaro in France and the New York Times in the United States provided valuable information about planting trees near cultures, whether they are farms or simple gardens. This practice provides a wide array of benefits to cultures, including :
1. Reducing climate change impacts
As more and more countries and regions around the world have to endure long droughts, agroforestry might help decrease evaporation as trees provide important shades.
In the United States, the US Department of Agriculture recommend to keep shelter belts planted after the Dust Bowl as the country is facing its most important drought in decades.
2. Slowing down soil erosion
Soil erosion played a key role in the collapse of the Easter Island civilization and other ones as Jared Diamond showed in his fantastic book, Collapse.
Indeed, while the aerial part of the trees – the trunks, branches and leaves – block the wind, the subterranean one slows or stops soil erosion thanks to their roots.
3. Filtrating the pollution
Being the home of a more diversified biodiversity, trees can also be a natural way to combat insects, thus reducing the need for insecticides and related products.
Their roots can also stop farms runoff from polluting rivers and streams.
4. Bringing precious nutrients
Not only trees help combat soil erosion, they also bring nutrients both thanks to their roots and their leaves when they fall in autumn. Trees also are the habitat of birds and bees, which can help pollinate crops.
Added bonus of trees combined with cultures : the biodiversity is increased.
5. Helping developing nations
In less developed nations around the world, agroforestry can help populations feed themselves thanks to their produce – fruits, nuts and edible oils. These can also reduce poverty if they are sold.
Farm grown fuel wood can also help cut the need for deforestation. The late Wangari Maathai had understood all and how planting trees is vital in developping nations. This is why she got the Nobel Peace Prize.
This concludes today’s article on agroforestry, I hope it sparked some interest in this technique which could enable our agriculture to become more sustainable.
Next week, we’ll bring trees in the city with urban forestry, so don’t hesitate to subscribe to the RSS or Email to be sure not to miss it !