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Sustainable land management technologies: agroforestry



Agroforestry is the integration of trees with crops and/or animals within the same land unit, and includes agro-silviculture (crops and trees), silvo-pastoralim (pasture/animals and trees), and agro-silvo-pastoralism (crops, pasture/animals and trees). Agroforestry is a common land use system worldwide, and a great variety of systems and practices exist under different climatic conditions, from tropical to hyper-arid areas. Practices range from shifting cultivation to systems with varying densities of tree stands, and systems in which trees play a predominantly service role (such as windbreaks) to those in which they mainly provide commercial products.


According to the report on sustainable land management (SLM) by the UNCCD Science-Policy Interface (SPI), agroforestry has the potential to control soil erosion and improve productivity and soil structure. Forest cover in agroforestry systems could improve water retention and reduce nutrient losses. Agroforestry also has the potential to conserve soil fertility and functioning, while providing socio-economic benefits to land users through income generation opportunities and increased resilience to climate change. At the regional level, agroforestry could potentially increase carbon sequestration and therefore be a climate change mitigation strategy.

Examples of SLM best practices in agroforestry 

Below are examples of best practices in agroforestry cited in the report on SLM by the SPI.

Agroforestry system

Agroforestry is a collective name for land-use systems and technologies where woody perennials (such as trees, shrubs, palms, or bamboos) are deliberately used on the same land-management unit as agricultural crops and/or animals, in some form of spatial arrangement or temporal sequence. The system has been proposed to farmers and re-introduced to the region with the aim of reducing environmental impacts and energy inputs as well as improving biodiversity and agricultural landscape.

Home gardens

Home gardens, containing tree, shrub, herbs, vine, tuber layers as well as poultry, produce food for household consumption as well as an additional income. All seven production layers can be found, with a tree canopy, lower trees, shrubs, herbs, a soil cover, roots and tubers as well as a climbing layer, although the number of layers varies by garden.


Read about other SLM technology groups


vegetation management

water management

grazing pressure management

animal waste management

sustainable forest management

reducing deforestation


forest restoration


minimum soil disturbance

soil erosion control

fire pest and diseases control


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