Parallel Sessions

Transitioning to a Viable World

Agroforestry offers many benefits for transitioning to a viable world. In these sessions, researchers will dialogue with farmers and various stakeholders to explore the different ways by which agroforestry can bring solutions to different ecological, social and economic needs and challenges. Each session aims to present lessons that can be learned from farmers’ innovations, research projects, development initiatives and policies in order to help farmers, advisors, researchers and policy makers to contribute to agroforestry development for a transition to a viable world.

A. Transitioning to Healthy Soils

A healthy soil can function as a living ecosystem that sustains biological productivity while maintaining the quality of the abiotic environment and protecting all life forms on a global scale. It is an important indicator of agricultural sustainability. Agroforestry systems are regenerative and sustainable land-use practices that contribute to improving soil health. They enhance soil organic carbon storage, nutrient availability, soil structure and microbial community diversity. These are key factors that contribute to increasing the diversity of life forms in the soil and improve its health. However, to what extent can agroforestry systems fulfill this role? What conditions are needed for agroforestry systems to maximize soil health and productivity? Questions like those are still unresolved and require more research. The aim of this session is to discover pathways for agroforestry to contribute to transitioning to healthy soils.

Some of the topics that will be explored in this session:

  • Agroforestry for soil carbon storage
  • Agroforestry for soil fertility
  • Agroforestry for combatting erosion
  • Agroforestry against soil salinization
  • Agroforestry for soil microorganisms and fauna
  • Symbiotic nitrogen fixation and mycorrhizae in agroforestry
B. Transitioning to Better Water Balance and Light Valorization

Water is a key resource in agricultural systems and finding ways to improve its management is critical for more sustainable practices. The integration of trees in those systems can improve the soil water balance and thus promote water use efficiency through higher infiltration, retention of water into soils and lower water losses due to evaporation and runoff. Agroforestry also plays a key role in water quality since trees promote sediment deposition and nutrient retention, contributing to reduce their movement into ground water and helping to clean runoff water. By making a better use of the available light, agroforestry systems also contribute to a better valorization of this resource for plant production. However, to what extent can agroforestry fulfill this role? How does the presence of trees in a landscape modify the local climatic conditions? What conditions are needed for agroforestry systems to maximize water balance and light valorization? This session aims to find ways for agroforestry to contribute to transitioning to a better water balance and light valorization.

Some of the topics that will be explored in this session:

  • Agroforestry contribution to the soil water balance
  • Agroforestry for clean water resources
  • Belowground interactions in agroforestry
  • Managing agroforestry systems for light resources
  • Plant breeding for agroforestry
  • Modelling biophysical interactions in agroforestry
C. Transitioning to Biodiversity

The conversion of vast natural areas to crop fields and pastures threatens the habitats of many species, compromising ecological sustainability. Ecosystem complexities need to be considered and promoted through agricultural systems that contribute in conserving natural resources by providing food, water, shelter and habitat for wildlife. Agroforestry systems, which typically harbor a much higher species richness than monoculture systems, are essential to protect and increase biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. They can also function as ecological corridors, allowing species to move between different habitats in a fragmented landscape. Agroforestry systems offer high complexity that can promote natural enemies of crop pests, while also providing a better habitat for pollinators and other beneficial taxa, such as soil microbes. Biodiversity is also the base to provide provisioning services (diversified production), regulating services (carbon sequestration, pest regulation, hydrological regulation, conservation of soil fertility) and even cultural services (tourism, recreation, spiritual). But how does agroforestry play such roles? To what extent can agroforestry compensate for the loss of natural habitats? What can be done to improve contributions and avoid conflicting aims? This session aims to find ways for agroforestry to contribute to transitioning to higher, and productive, biodiversity on farms and at the landscape level.

Some of the topics that will be explored in this session:

  • Agroforestry and ecosystem complexity
  • Agroforestry for ecosystem services
  • Agroforestry for habitat reconnection
  • Agroforestry for pest control
  • Agroforestry for pollinators
D. Transitioning to a Viable Climate

Agroforestry systems help mitigating climate change in the long run through carbon sequestration in soil and trees and lower levels of methane and nitrous oxide emissions compared to agriculture without trees. They thus contribute to meeting global climate change mitigation targets. By providing better resistance and resilience to biotic and abiotic stresses, agroforestry could also help to adapt to climate change. Thanks to the shade they provide, trees offer protection for crops, livestock and farmers against extreme climate phenomena such as rising temperature. By reducing soil evaporation and crop transpiration and increasing water infiltration, they could help to resist to episodes of low and erratic rainfall. Agroforestry also increases farmers’ resilience through crop diversification by providing resources such as fruits, nuts, medicinal products and timber, therefore ensuring a secure source of income. It is one of the cheapest adaptation strategies for low-income communities, which are more at risk when facing climate change due to increased exposure and vulnerability. But to what extent does agroforestry help mitigating climate change and adapting to it? What conditions are needed for ensuring that agroforestry can play its role? How does it compare with other “climate-smart” options, in terms of efficiency and affordability? Can we upscale at global scale the potential impact on the climate of a generalization of agroforestry? This session aims to find ways for agroforestry to contribute to transitioning to a viable climate.

Some of the topics that will be explored in this session:

  • Agroforestry for climate change mitigation: carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions
  • Agroforestry for resistance and resilience to climate change: microclimate, water balance and biodiversity aspects
  • Social aspects of the transition to a viable climate
  • Which incentives for transitioning to a viable climate?
  • Think globally, act locally: scaling and upscaling agroforestry for a viable climate
E. Transitioning to Food Security and Health

Agroforestry’s multifunctional landscape resulting from diversification can provide a healthy and balanced diet to households. Agroforestry systems can benefit food insecure families and communities, and especially women and children, to derive nutritious food from crops, livestock and trees, as well as non-timber tree products that can be a source of income. Further, by reducing the dependency on chemical inputs, they can lower the risk caused by those inputs on human health. By improving ecosystem diversity and processes, agroforestry may also help combating zoonoses and other human diseases. Overall, agroforestry can play a critical role in improving food availability, access (via increased household income), utilization (via value-addition), and stability, which all contribute to achieve sustainable food security and better health. However, why is food insecurity still an issue? Are we lacking in any supporting infrastructure, governance and policies? How do we conceive agroforestry systems that really ensure food security and health?  This session aims to find ways for agroforestry to contribute to transitioning to food security and human health.

Some of the topics that will be explored in this session:

  • Agroforestry for food security and nutrition
  • Agroforestry for nutritive food
  • Agroforestry for global health
  • Agroforestry and non-timber forest products
F. Transitioning to a Viable Economy

Agroforestry improves soil health, biodiversity and resilience to climate change, thus enhancing crop yield and income generation. It promotes an economic diversification which is especially adapted for smallholder farmers that are vulnerable to biotic, abiotic and economic stresses. Through diversification of the agroecosystem, agroforestry provides different types of resources for additional income or to reduce households’ expenses, thus participating in reducing farmers’ dependency on inputs and credit. However, agroforestry may also limit yields of certain species in comparison with monospecific systems, due to the competition between the associated species for resources. Agroforestry is also commonly associated with agroecological practices that might not be valorized by any label on the market. It provides many ecosystem services whose economic value for the society as a whole is considerable but often not paid for. Putting agroforestry in practice to generate profit thus rises many technical, commercial, organisational, and economic challenges. What are the conditions for agroforestry systems to be profitable at the farm scale? How can agroforestry systems be included in a landscape to favor a transition to a viable and environment-friendly economy, and eventually to a circular economy? This session aims to find ways for agroforestry to help transitioning to a viable economy.

Some of the topics that will be explored in this session:

  • The profitability of agroforestry systems
  • The marketing of agroforestry products
  • Labour issues in agroforestry
  • Agroforestry and the public versus private profitability conflict
  • Paying for agroforestry goods and services
  • Corporate investments in agroforestry: ethical and societal perspectives
  • The role of agroforestry in the circular economy
G. Transitioning to a Viable Society

Recognizing agroforestry as a land use that increases basic resources availability and reduces farmers’ vulnerability, in particular for women smallholders, can help rural households and regional economies to increase self-reliance. Many agroforestry systems are embedded in people’s culture, especially in First Nations and other indigenous people, bringing sense to their cropping practices in a world where forestry and agriculture have not been segregated. As a multifunctional approach, agroforestry also contributes to a more appealing landscape and improved spatial planning in rural communities, as well as in some urban and peri-urban contexts. However, to what extent can agroforestry fulfill this role? What conditions are needed for agroforestry systems to maximize communities and societies’ sustainability? This session aims to find ways for agroforestry to help transitioning to a viable society, while maintaining viable rural societies wherever they exist.  

Some of the topics that will be explored in this session:

  • Agroforestry, knowledge, culture and relational values
  • Equity, diversity, inclusion and gender issues in agroforestry
  • Agroforestry for fulfilling landscapes
  • Urban and peri-urban agroforestry
H. Transitioning to a Viable Development

As a multifunctional approach, agroforestry connects the need for profitable livelihoods, quality of human lives and healthy ecosystems. It contributes to many sustainable development goals as diverse as poverty reduction, biodiversity conservation, sustainable land management, gender equality, health, access to clean water and sustainable energy solutions. By its production of multiple resources on a given unit of land and its promotion of ecosystem diversity, agroforestry represents a promising path for the critical transition to healthy agroecosystems and sustainable development. However, the implementation of agroforestry practices faces many challenges related to the use of local knowledge, farmers’ participation, availability of appropriate technologies, research, education and training, among others. This session aims to find ways for agroforestry to help transitioning to a viable development.
Some of the topics that will be explored in this session:

  • Blending local and scientific knowledge for agroforestry
  • Knowledge sharing for agroforestry
  • Farmers’ participation in agroforestry projects
  • Scientists’ role in farmers and collective agroforestry dynamics
  • What role for high-tech and low-tech technologies in agroforestry?
  • New research methods for agroforestry
  • Innovations in education and training for agroforestry
  • Evidence for impact: frameworks and methods for measuring and communicating agroforestry’s contribution to a viable development
I. Transitioning to Viable Policies

To increase resources dedicated to the implementation of agroforestry in the field, policy-makers’ attention must shift from conventional industrial models to more sustainable approaches. Because of the multifunctional nature of agroforestry systems, a multisectoral coordination is required to facilitate producers’ transition to agroforestry and limit factors that restrain farmers’ long-term investments such as lack of rights to land, lack of technical and financial support and inadequate agricultural and forestry policies. This session aims to find ways for transitioning to a viable policy environment that could support agroforestry conservation, adoption and scaling-up.

Some of the topics that will be explored in this session:

  • Tenure issues in agroforestry
  • Agroforestry policies
  • Intersectorial coordination for agroforestry development
  • Subsidizing agroforestry
  • What does it mean to transition to agroforestry?

Agroforestry Solutions for Transition

Agroforestry was first developed locally by rural and indigenous communities all around the world. It thus comprises very diversified systems and techniques based on broad traditional knowledge. Farmers are also constantly innovating, sometimes in dialogue with other actors such as researchers and agroforestry advisors, emphasizing the need for contextual and systemic approaches when studying or implementing agroforestry systems. In these sessions, farmers, advisors, researchers and policy makers will explore together local agroforestry solutions based on farmers’ knowledge and continuous innovation to improve existing systems and develop innovative agroforestry solutions for transition.

J. Which Agroforestry for Arid Climates?

The land use in arid and semi-arid climates of the world including dry woodlands and savannas has the challenge of providing food for important populations of humans and livestock. But ecophysiological factors including growth resources like water limit the agroecosystem productivity, while social factors such as increasing human population, high demand for wood biofuel, insecure land tenure and unaffordable farm inputs put even more pressure on farmers’ ability to get sufficient food and income for supporting their needs. While it is necessary to meet the global development agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially food security and eradication of poverty, the use of un-adapted agriculture practices have resulted in loss of tree cover, overgrazing, reduced soil health and desertification. At the same time, from oasis and homegardens to agroforestry parklands, using bocages, windbreaks or live fences, farmer communities have developed various agroforestry systems and techniques for adapting to such a difficult environment. In this session, we will explore what can be learned from local traditional systems, farmers’ innovations and scientific research to conceive agroforestry systems able to boost productivity and improve food security and nutrition while reducing disaster risk and providing ecosystem services in these arid climatic regions of the world.

K. Which Agroforestry for Annual Crops?

Annual crops mixed with trees give room to interactions which have always been a key element determining the management options applied by farmers. Both in tropical and temperate zones, choosing the compatible species, their spatial and temporal arrangement and the management practices to apply are critical to optimize the overall production of any specific agroforestry system or technique and the ecosystem services that they provide. Biophysical studies include a combination of field trials, observational studies and modelling to understand soil-tree-crop interactions, mainly regarding the sharing of growth resources such as soil nutrient, water and light, as well as structural and functional biodiversity. On the other hand, qualitative and quantitative studies point out various social, economic and policy factors affecting farmers in their practice. Despite farmers’ innovations and scientific advances, there are still some methodological challenges in determining the tradeoffs and synergies between and among goods and services, and how to boost the provisioning, supporting, and regulating functions of such agroforestry systems. In this session, we will explore what can be learned from local traditional systems, farmers’ innovations and scientific research to conceive agroforestry systems for annual crops that will provide such critical ecosystem service functions in the quest for ensuring food security while achieving adaptation and mitigation goals in face of changing climate.

L. Which Agroforestry for Commercial Perennial Crops and Trees?

Monoculture in full sun conditions was usually recommended in tropical perennials such as coffee, cacao, oil palm and temperate perennials such as fruit trees. Nowadays, associating trees, planted on hedgerows or inside plots, are advocated due to the wide range of ecosystem services that they provide. New concepts and tools are available to help in selecting locally adapted tree species and in analyzing tradeoffs between the provision of ecosystem services and societal and farmers’ needs, constraints and preferences. Building on local traditional systems, farmers’ innovations and most recent scientific research, this session aims to explore advances in tropical and temperate agroforestry systems with perennial crops, covering experiences on the complementarity or competition for resources as well as biodiversity conservation, diversification of revenues, avoided deforestation, climate change mitigation and adaptation, soil and landscape restoration, agricultural regeneration, regulation of the water cycle, biocontrol of pests and diseases, and entry point for landscape governance and community resilience.

M. Which Agroforestry for Integrating Livestock to Trees and Crops?

The association of animals, crops and trees is one of the most common features of traditional agroecosystems in the world. While industrial models of agricultural production bet on a spatial separation of crops and livestock, not mentioning trees, a great diversity of agro-sylvo-pastoral systems exists. In such systems, trees and shrubs may be used for various purposes such as feeding animals through foliage or fruit production and offering them shade and protection against winds, but also for providing timber, fuelwood, food for human consumption, medicinal products, litter, wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration and various sociocultural benefits. Locally, many rural communities developed innovative techniques for ensuring such a multifunctional use of their landscape, benefiting from the complementarity between the components of agro-sylvo-pastoral systems. At the same time, there are increased concerns about the impacts of livestock on the ecosystems and its contribution to climate change. What kind of trees, shrubs, crop varieties and animal breeds may be used in agro-sylvo-pastoral systems? How can we manage them? What kind of landscape may fulfill such integration? Which regulation can meet the needs of agro-sylvo-pastoral farmers and communities? In this session, we will explore what can be learned from local traditional systems, farmers’ innovations and scientific research to conceive agro-sylvo-pastoral systems able to contribute to food security, income and sociocultural needs of farmers’ communities, while ensuring the achievement of a viable future.

N. Which Agroforestry for an Edible Food Forest?

From agroforests to edible forest gardens and permaculture, domestic forests exist all over the world, from temperate to arid and tropical humid regions, where they have been managed by indigenous and farmer communities for centuries. These domestic forests have been designed and periodically re-designed building on the existing ecosystem in relation to socioeconomic and cultural needs and values, through practices adapted to the local context. They provide various timber and non-timber products such as fruits, nuts, mushrooms, medicinal products, resins, fibers, rubber, etc., thus contributing to food security and income. Domestic forests are also complex natural ecosystems that offer many environmental benefits such as forest preservation, biodiversity protection, climate change mitigation, soil conservation and retention of water into soils, as well as various sociocultural benefits. Those elements are essential for global environmental and human health and can therefore participate in the pursuit of sustainability. However, domestic forests are affected by many challenges related to the use of local and ancestral knowledge, negative perceptions about forest farmers, and unsuitable forest policies and regulations. In this session, we will explore the conditions needed for a nourishing forest to be a promising alternative strategy for the management of forest resources, lands and landscapes, while promoting local knowledge and livelihood activities.

O. Agroforestry – an Essential Pillar of Agroecology

Contemporary interest in agroecology has emerged in response to evidence of widespread problems associated with the corporate-led, industrial model of agricultural production. Agroecology has evolved as a field that focuses on the application of ecological principles to agricultural research and practice, to an approach that engages producers, harvesters and the entire food system and seeks broad participation of a diversity of knowledge systems. This approach aims to transition away from ideologies that have prioritized maximizing agricultural yields with synthetic inputs to one that encompasses various aspects of socio-ecological systems thinking, and which aims to support local economies while strengthening biodiversity, resilience, and social justice. This session will explore how agroecological principles can inform agroforestry transformations, as well as the role of agroforestry in promoting and/or inhibiting agroecological transitions. We will explore the deeper changes needed in the ways our agroforestry systems are conceived and structured to transition toward more equitable and sustainable futures.

Open Session

Submit any abstract not matching the above topics to the Open Session.