Agroforestry development in Europe: Policy issues

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This paper is the work from AGFORWARD project funded from the European Union´s Seventh Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration under Grant Agreement no. 613,520. Mercedes Rois-Diaz is an EFI researcher and many of the other authors are from EFI member organisations.


Agroforestry is considered a sustainable form of land management that optimizes the use of natural resources (nutrients, radiation, water). Agroforestry is defined as the deliberate integration of woody vegetation with agricultural activities in the lower story. It provides a higher biomass production per unit of land, while providing more ecosystem services than woody-less agricultural lands, such as the reduction of soil erosion and nitrogen leaching, and increase carbon sequestration and landscape biodiversity. The objective of this paper is to evaluate the past and current European Union Common Agricultural policies aiming at promoting the afforestation or reforestation of lands, as the introduction of trees can be seen as a first step to carry out agroforestry practices in former agricultural or forest lands. Agroforestry was a traditional land use system in Europe before modern times. However, before the sixties land intensification and consolidation destroyed millions of trees all over Europe. On the contrary, some good examples of agroforestry promotion are found in Eastern European countries in order to reduce the effect of extreme events such as winds, flooding at the beginning and mid of the last century. In Western European countries, the introduction of trees in the land has been promoted by agroforestry, afforestation and reforestation at the end of the last century. Afforestation of agricultural lands have been the most successful CAP measure (over 1 million hectares) while agroforestry measures were not extensively adopted which may be explained by the funds associated to afforestation measure which compensated the losses of income 15 or 20 years in afforested lands. Agroforestry was poorly adopted in the CAP 2007–2013, having a better success in the CAP 2014–2020 due to the recognition of woody vegetation and the compensation of 5 years given for maintenance once agroforestry is established. However, policy rules ensuring Pillar I payment when agroforestry measure is adopted such as a management plans ensuring that maximum tree density (100 trees per hectare) is not reached, should be pursued.

J.J. Santiago-Freijanes, A. Pisanelli, M. Rois-Díaz, J.A. Aldrey-Vázquez, A. Rigueiro-Rodríguez, A. Pantera, A. Vityi, B. Lojka, N. Ferreiro-Domínguez, M.R. Mosquera-Losada, Agroforestry development in Europe: Policy issues, Land Use Policy, Volume 76, July 2018, Pages 144-156.