P.K.R. Nair and D. Garrity (eds.), Agroforestry - The Future of Global
Land Use, Advances in Agroforestry 9, DOI 10.1007/978-94-007-4676-3_20,
© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012
Abstract This chapter argues for a broader conceptual domain provided by agroforestry
practices as a key pathway for the reorientation of agricultural systems in the Amazon
toward modes of production that combine productivity and sustainability. A contex-
tualization of the multiple expressions of current agroforestry development in the
Amazon shows that, contrasting with homegardens and shifting cultivation, ubiquitous
in the region, planned or organized agroforestry systems are still minor elements of
the agricultural landscape, often arising from farmers’ experimentation or resulting
from initiatives funded by international cooperation. A “multichain” approach focusing
on both established markets as well as “secondary chains” is suggested as a pathway
R. Porro (*)
World Agroforestry Centre, ICRAF, Latin America, Brazil
Embrapa Amazônia Oriental , Trav. Dr. Enéas Pinheiro s/n. ,
Belém , PA , Brazil, 66095-100
R. P. Miller
United Nations Development Program (UNDP) , Brasilia , Brazil
M. R. Tito • J. A. Donovan
World Agroforestry Centre, ICRAF, Lima, Peru
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ; J.Donovan@cgiar.org
J. L. Vivan
Consultant, UNDP-RSC for Latin America and the Caribbean, Florianópolis, Santa Catarina
Ministério do Meio Ambiente, MMA , Brasilia , Brazil
Agroforestry in the Amazon Region: A Pathway
for Balancing Conservation and Development
Roberto Porro , Robert P. Miller , Marcos R. Tito , Jason A. Donovan ,
Jorge L. Vivan , Ralph Trancoso , Rudi F. Van Kanten , Jorge E. Grijalva ,
Bertha L. Ramirez , and André L. Gonçalves
392 R. Porro et al.
for agroforestry to go beyond subsistence toward income generation and to reduce the
constraints faced by Amazon farmers to intensify land use. The costs and risks
presented by practices leading to intensi ﬁ cation, aggravated by problems in regional
infrastructure, limited access to adequate technical and ﬁ nancial services, and insecure
land tenure require equitable development policies and programs to support such
initiatives. A stronger policy identity for agroforestry in the region should thus recog-
nize the provision of both economic goods and ecosystem services, and this chapter
argues that given the carbon stored in agroforestry systems, the framework of envi-
ronmental international agreements is an opportunity to combine environmental and
livelihood bene ﬁ ts through the design, promotion, and dissemination of agroforestry
strategies. A review of policies that can in ﬂ uence adoption of sustainable land use
systems in the Amazon region attests their operation in a fragmented manner. These
policies must be set as a cohesive whole, being agroforestry the common thread to
support and link initiatives to reduce poverty and hunger, curb deforestation and CO
emissions, and to mitigate climate change. Agroforestry will be then an effective
strategy to bridge gaps between policies, and particularly in linking environmental
opportunities with economic realities, while enhancing the livelihoods of smallholders,
traditional communities, and indigenous peoples in the Amazon.
Keywords Agroforestry policy • Land use intensi ﬁ cation • Payment for
Environmental Services • Sustainable livelihoods
The Amazon region and its peoples are at a crossroads regarding trade-offs between
conservation and agriculture. The current context of deforestation and natural
resource degradation in the Amazon
1 means that cases of successful sustainable
resource management that exist in the region increase in importance and merit
greater visibility. Among such positive examples are a number of agroforestry
R. F. Van Kanten
Tropenbos International, Paramaribo, Suriname
J. E. Grijalva
Instituto Nacional Autónomo de Investigaciones Agropecuarias
del Ecuador, INIAP , Quito , Ecuador
B. L. Ramirez
Universidad de la Amazonía , Florencia, Caqueta , Colombia
A. L. Gonçalves
Instituto Federal Catarinense IFC , Florianópolis, Santa Catarina , Brazil
initiatives; these cases, however, need to be better understood, strengthened, and
scaled up and out for the realization of an agroecological transition (sensu Altieri
2002 ) under which Amazonian nature and society are not in permanent opposition
but rather seek an equilibrium. As recently stated by the United Nations Special
Rapporteur on the right to food, in the context of ecological food and energy crises,
the most pressing issue regarding the needed reinvestment in agriculture is not how
much but how to produce . 2 In this chapter, we argue that the broader conceptual
domain provided by agroforestry practices is a key pathway for the reorientation of
agricultural systems in the Amazon toward modes of production that combine sus-
tainability with the progressive realization of the right to adequate food and other
components of human welfare. We examine principal aspects involved in achieving
this potential and argue for a stronger policy identity for agroforestry in the region,
aimed at both the provision of economic goods as well as recovery of ecosystem
services, the latter through landscape restoration of cleared areas such as degraded
pastures that result from moving agricultural frontiers. While ecological restoration
can be quite expensive on its own, recuperating such areas with agroforestry systems
that combine production of food, commodities, and timber products may be a viable
alternative. Before discussing the role of agroforestry as an alternative and more sus-
tainable form of development for the Amazon, we summarize the present socioeco-
nomic, environmental, and political context of the region, with special regard to the
forces driving deforestation.
Deforestation and the Present-Day Amazonian Scenario
Concerns about deforestation in the Amazon initially were related to loss of bio-
diversity and habitat and to impacts on traditional peoples. At present, however,
global climate change has become an increasingly important issue, as the region
is not only a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions resulting from conversion of
forest to systems with much less biomass (such as pastures) but also a probable
victim of heating and drying as the effects of climate change become more pro-
nounced (Cochrane and Barber 2009 ; Malhi et al . 2009 ; Nepstad et al . 2004 ;
Nobre and Borma 2009 ) . Current programs for regional economic and infrastruc-
ture development, notably hydroelectric dams (Fearnside 2009 ; Fearnside and
Graça 2009 ) and roads such as the highway linking the Amazon to the Paci ﬁ c,
coupled with continuing migration to Amazon frontier areas and population
growth (Carr et al . 2009 ; Perz et al. 2005 ) , are likely to contribute to more defor-
estation, land degradation, and biodiversity loss, with drastic impacts on the live-
lihoods of the region’s most vulnerable occupants and on the Amazon environment
itself. In Brazil, an analysis of human development indicators in frontier regions
shows that these indicators tend to increase as deforestation begins, accompany-
ing the conversion of natural capital, such as timber, but then decline as the fron-
tier evolves and extensive ranching becomes the predominant land use (Rodrigues
et al . 2009 ) .
394 R. Porro et al.
Nearly 85 million ha of Amazon forest have been cleared since the 1970s, mostly
in Brazil (Malhi et al . 2008 ) , where 62.2% of the cumulative land deforested up to
2007 was occupied by pastures. In productive terms, however, 25% of this area
under pasture can be considered as degraded or “weedy”.
5 Nonetheless, Brazil’s
cattle herd is now the second largest in the world, with an estimated 205 million
head, and the beef sector represents 2% of Brazil’s GDP,
6 the equivalent of more
than US$ 40 billion in 2010. More than one third of Brazil’s cattle
7 is currently
raised in the Legal Amazon.
Figure 1 shows annual deforestation rates and cumulative deforestation in the
Brazilian Amazon from 1990 to 2011. The signi ﬁ cant reduction in deforestation
observed in recent years results from advances in satellite monitoring of deforestation
activities, more effective enforcement by government agencies, the creation of new
protected areas, advocacy by major international organizations and companies, and
to falling commodity prices during the period (chie ﬂ y beef and soy) (Nepstad et al .
2009 ) . Nevertheless, the new increase in deforestation (Fig. 2 ) detected in 2011
indicates that in light of the competing pressures, control mechanisms are still
insuf ﬁ cient.
Although practices have been changing, many agricultural or pasture areas were
installed with minimal or no regard for the maintenance of riparian buffer strips to
protect hydrological resources, much less for the connectivity that is important
to other landscape functions such as supporting biodiversity. According to some
climatologists, if 30% of the Amazon is deforested, the ensuing impacts on soil
properties, local and regional hydrological cycles, and climate will ultimately lead
to a “tipping point,” resulting in a self-feeding cycle of intensi ﬁ cation of dry seasons,
wild ﬁ res, and increasing savannization (Malhi et al. 2009 ; Nepstad et al. 2009 ;
Nobre and Borma 2009 ) . This point may be reached if present land use practices are
Fig. 1 Annual deforestation rates and cumulative deforestation in the Brazilian Legal Amazon,
continued, and the Amazon remains a principal outlet for feeding a growing human
population. National environmental goals related to climate change mitigation
and adaptation can, however, lead to the convergence of economic and ecological
objectives, with ecosystem restoration being supported by mechanisms such as
payments for environmental services. This brings the possibility of implementing
more environmentally friendly forms of land use that would otherwise not be
adopted by farmers due to higher initial costs or fewer short-term bene ﬁ ts.
The remainder of this chapter will address the role of agroforestry in providing
possible solutions for the Amazonian dilemma of balancing conservation and
development. We begin by describing the traditional context of agroforestry in the
Amazon and positive examples that have arisen in recent years as possible pathways
to be followed. This chapter then addresses agroforestry research in the Amazon
region and why this has not necessarily been associated with adoption! It then
examines what are perceived as major constraints for broader adoption, and impli-
cations for agroforestry policy, including the role of agroforestry in supporting
climate change mitigation mechanisms. Although the general focus of this chapter
is the Brazilian Amazon region, examples from neighboring countries in the Amazon
lowland rainforest biome are also discussed.
Fig. 2 Cumulative deforested area and recent hotspots of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon
(Map by R. Trancoso)
396 R. Porro et al.
Agroforestry as a Traditional Land Use in the Amazon
The cultivation of trees in agroforestry systems (AFS) in the Amazon dates from
long before the European arrival, as evidenced by the number of tree species, mainly
fruit-bearing, that were domesticated by indigenous peoples (Clement
1999 ) and
the reports of the ﬁ rst Europeans to explore that region in the sixteenth century
(Miller and Nair 2006 ) . Many of these species continue to be cultivated in homegardens;
some have become commercial successes, such as the peach palm ( Bactris gasipaes
Kunth). Products obtained from trees, principally native cacao ( Theobroma cacao L.),
were a prime factor in the Portuguese occupation of the Amazon valley in the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In the nineteenth century, the growing industrial
demand for the latex of the rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis (Willd. ex A. Juss) Müll.
Arg, caused an economic boom in the Amazon, only to collapse with the rise of
plantation rubber in Asia in the ﬁ rst decades of the twentieth century (Homma 2003 ;
Weinstein 1983 ) .
The Amazon’s extractive forest products contribute to Brazil’s economy as well,
with the fruit of the açai palm ( Euterpe oleracea C. Mart) in ﬁ rst place (US$ 91.5
million in 2009), followed by the kernels of the babaçu palm ( Attalea speciosa C.
Mart. ex Spreng.; US$ 69.1 million), and Brazil nut ( Bertholletia excelsa Bonpl.;
US$ 29.8 million). In 2009, these three products constituted 49% of the total of
the non-timber forest production in Brazil.
10 The spatial distribution of production
of these three products across the municipalities of the Brazilian Legal Amazon is
presented in Fig. 3 . While the revenue from these products represents less than
0.01% of Brazil’s gross national product (GNP), it constitutes a signi ﬁ cant contribu-
tion for rural low-income Amazon families, as opposed, for instance, to the US$ 1.5
billion derived in that same year from timber extraction, an industry with a highly
skewed value chain and proportionally lower bene ﬁ ts to local dwellers. The social
importance of extractive products in rural regions is recognized by the National Plan
for Promotion of Market Chains for Products of Socio-biodiversity (PNPSB),
launched in 2009, under the coordination of various ministries.
Landscapes inhabited by indigenous people, traditional communities, and small-
holder farmers, and their associated socio-biodiversity products highlight the fuzzy
limits between agroforestry and forest management in the humid tropics, as these
products are often obtained through land management systems that comprise forms
of agroforestry (Brondizio 1999 , 2005 ; Manzi and Coomes 2009 ; Porro 2005 ;
Schroth et al . 2003 ) . In addition, NTFP and agroforestry tree products (AFTP) face
similar marketing challenges in that collectors or farmers generally live in rural
areas with poor road access and no electricity, so opportunities are generally limited
to those products that are not perishable.
Besides areas of forest under strict conservation, the case not only of protected areas
such as parks and similar categories but also legally de ﬁ ned riparian buffers, the
Amazonian scenario includes extensive areas of forest used by traditional communities
for collection of extractive products as well as areas slated for selective logging,
theoretically in accordance with principles of forest management. In Brazil, various
categories of protected areas involving such sustainable use are legally recognized,
such as National Forests (FLONAs) and State Forests (FLOTAs), Extractive Reserves
(RESEX) and Sustainable Development Reserves (RDS), as well as three categories
of agrarian reform projects that are “environmentally differentiated.” However, even
traditional communities established in RESEX, RDS, and environmentally differentiated
agrarian reform projects are liable to convert forest to pasture (Gomes 2009 ; Vadjunec
et al. 2009 ) , 11 a trend that can only be reverted by supporting well-designed systems
that combine the extraction of forest products and agroforestry practices, with value
chain development for timber, NTFPs and AFTP. To be a politically and economi-
cally viable proposition, however, such support must be considered in the context of
ecosystem services and the possibility of providing signi ﬁ cant environmental co-bene ﬁ ts
to society as a whole. In the remainder of this section, we discuss some of the tradi-
tional agroforestry practices that are part of the cultural heritage in various countries of
the Amazon. The locations of the agroforestry initiatives discussed in this and in the
next section are mapped in Fig. 4 .
In the Ecuadorian Amazon (Fig. 4 ), some 54% of the land under tropical forests
belongs to 11 indigenous groups. Kichwa and Shuar communities traditionally practice
Fig. 3 Spatial distribution of production of the three main extractive forest products: açaí palm
( Euterpe oleracea ), babaçu palm ( Attalea speciosa ), and Brazil nut ( Bertholletia excelsa ) in
municipalities of the Brazilian Legal Amazon (Source: IBGE 2009 ) (Maps by R. Trancoso)
398 R. Porro et al.
the chakra system, in which small-scale shifting cultivation evolves into a shaded
agroforestry system (AFS). In this system, cassava ( Manihot esculenta Crantz) and
banana ( Musa sp.) provide food for domestic consumption, while cacao supports
household income and forest species provide ﬁ bers and seeds for crafts, medicines,
and other goods and services, such as community-sponsored tourism.
12 The chakra
combines conservation and production attributes within an integrated resource man-
agement system. Organizations producing cacao within chakras are seeking to con-
solidate a niche in the European market, with direct contributions to the preservation
of local culture.
13 Ecuador’s aromatic cacao is produced under shade and combined
with high value timber species, such as Spanish cedar ( Cedrela odorata L.), mahog-
any ( Swietenia macrophylla King) , laurel ( Cordia alliodora (Ruiz & Pav.) Oken),
and chuncho ( Cedrelinga cateniformis Ducke). Production and internal capacity,
however, are not yet suf ﬁ cient to supply the growing demand due to the combina-
tion of low productivity of cacao plots, limited generation and dissemination of
technology, and the lack of modern infrastructure to provide this high-quality cacao
at a broader scale.
In the Venezuelan state of Amazonas, indigenous farmers of the Huottöja, Jivi, Curripaco,
and Baré ethnic groups in the municipalities of Atures and Autana (Fig. 4 ) are
Fig. 4 Location of agroforestry initiatives in the Amazon region discussed in this chapter (Map by
diversifying their agriculture with the introduction of perennial crops and enhancing
their traditional production areas, called conucos . Comparable to chakras in Ecuador,
conucos are swidden ﬁ elds for staple crop production (in this case, cassava being the
most relevant) that evolve into shaded systems (Freire
2007 ) . The species showing the
best results include peach palm, barewa or cupuaçu ( Theobroma grandi ﬂ orum (Willd.
ex Spreng) K. Schum), cocura ( Pourouma cecropiifolia C. Mart.), guada ( Dacryodes
microcarpa Cuatrec.), seje ( Jessenia bataua (C. Mart.) Burret), manaca ( Euterpe
precatoria Mart.), túpiro ( Solanum sessili ﬂ orum Dunal), temare ( Pouteria caimito
(Ruiz & Pav.) Radlk.), rubber, and guama ( Inga edulis C. Mart.).
In Suriname, the most important agricultural system for subsistence and sale of
surpluses is shifting cultivation, practiced by the Amerindians and the Maroons.
the coastal area (Fig. 4 ), adjacent to vegetable plots and grazing lands, practically
every smallholder farmer maintains a homegarden, where several fruit trees and to
a lesser extent service trees are grown. Multiple, diverse outputs from the homegardens
include some of intangible value, such as plantain ( Musa sp.) leaves used as plates
during cultural events. Tree presence reduces weed growth and contributes to control
erosion, while nitrogen- ﬁ xing trees add the element to the systems.
In addition to homegardens and swidden ﬁ elds traditionally established by indigenous
communities (Coomes and Burt 1997 ; Denevan and Padoch 1987 ) , agroforestry in
the Peruvian Amazon increasingly includes improved fallows and multistrata systems.
One important example is successional agroforestry practiced on alluvial soils on
the banks of the Aguaytía river (Fig. 4 ), where the abundant and homogeneous
regeneration of white bolaina ( Guazuma crinita C. Mart.) is managed in fallows.
After 5–6 years of fallow, and little or no silvicultural treatments, farmers cut down
50–80 trees per ha, with a yield of 17–29 m
3 ha −1 of timber. After two more years,
the remaining trees are cut down and the cycle restarts (Castillo 2009 ) .
Timber management in fallows is also practiced by indigenous peoples of the Macuxi
and Wapixana ethnic groups in the savanna region of the state of Roraima (Fig. 4 ),
northern Brazil. These groups carry out swidden agriculture in islands of dry forest
scattered throughout the savanna, and during the cropping cycle, they protect and
manage the coppices of Centrolobium paraense Tul., a timber highly valued for
400 R. Porro et al.
house construction and ﬁ rewood. After 4 years, coppices in fallows can reach sizes
suf ﬁ cient for use as house posts, beams and roof rafters.
Amazonian homegardens (Fig. 5 ), besides being the prehistoric locus of tree
domestication and improvement, continue to have an important role today, not only
in food security and income generation but also as “laboratories” where farmers test
new species and practices, and multiply germplasm for transfer to and between
ﬁ elds or exchange with other households (Miller et al. 2006 ). The potential role of
homegardens in agroforestry development is clearly illustrated by the example of
Japanese-Brazilian colonists in Tomé-Açu, state of Pará, a reference for national
and international agroforestry researchers and advocates. Established in the 1930s,
these families used their homegardens to test the adaptation of exotic species to
local conditions, as well as to experiment with native species, becoming successful
with exports of black pepper ( Piper nigrum L.) in the 1950s (Yamada and Osaqui
2006 ) . Black pepper monocultures, however, were decimated by diseases in the
1970s, forcing farmers to develop alternatives including multistrata systems with
cacao and a number of tropical fruits (Subler and Uhl 1990 ; Yamada 2009 ) . From
the mid-1970s to the early 1980s, they successfully introduced Hawaiian Sunrise
Solo papaya ( Carica papaya L.) and were able to supply regional and national
Fig. 5 Homegardens with a diversity of useful species are a common feature in traditional com-
munities in the Amazon (Parauari River, Amazonas, Brazil) (Photo: R.P. Miller)
18 Tomé-Açu’s Multipurpose Agriculture Cooperative’s (CAMTA) market
integration has considerably expanded in the past two decades, relying on a process-
ing plant capable of producing annual volumes of 3,000 t of fruit pulp and able to
store 1,000 t, with a growing emphasis on açai (Fig. 6 ).
CAMTA has developed strategies for responding to environmental and economic
challenges and has discovered important principles of adaptation, diversi ﬁ cation,
innovation, and shared decision making. However, ethnic identity has played an
important role by helping unite members and by linking the cooperative to Japanese
markets and ﬁ nancial capital. Adoption of similar agroforestry practices by non-
Japanese-Brazilian farmers in the region has been slow, however (Piekielek 2010 ) . It
is still uncertain whether the factors limiting more widespread adoption are lack of
education, capital, or entrepreneurship and business training, or a combination of
these, and the Tome-Açu example does raise questions as to how successful agrofor-
estry systems are related to case-speci ﬁ c aspects of ethnicity, culture, and traditions.
Although the success of CAMTA (Fig. 4 ) is still paramount when examining
commercial agroforestry in the Amazon, a number of other agroforestry experi-
ences initially supported by government programs or NGOs have achieved moder-
ate success, some of them for more than two decades. An examination of these cases
will be the focus of the next section.
Fig. 6 Agroforestry systems developed by farmers of Japanese descent in Tomé-Açu, Pará, are
regarded as one of the most successful examples of agroforestry in the Amazon region. Shown here
is a system combining paricá ( Schizolobium amazonicum ), açaí ( Euterpe oleracea ), and cupuaçu
( Theobroma grandi ﬂ orum ) (Photo: R. Porro)
402 R. Porro et al.
Successful Cases of Externally Supported Agroforestry
Initiatives in the Amazon
Beginning in 1995, the Demonstration Projects (PDA) component of the Pilot
Program to Conserve the Brazilian Rain Forest (PPG-7) supported initiatives foster-
ing the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources with the participation
of local communities.
19 Agroforestry was one of the major elements of the projects
and the PDA database
22 thus constitutes a reference for assessments of planned
agroforestry initiatives in the Brazilian Amazon. Some of these initiatives are pre-
Founded in the late 1980s, the Association of Agrosilvicultural Smallholders of
the RECA Project, which in Portuguese stands for Intercropped and Dense Economic
Reforestation, in Vila Nova California, Rondonia state (Fig. 4 ), has about
1,500 ha under agroforestry production, the main crops being cupuaçu (for frozen
fruit pulp) and peach palm (for palm hearts), both exported to European markets.
Over time, RECA farmers faced challenges in sustaining productivity and avoiding
site degradation. Studies by INPA, Brazil’s National Institute for Amazon Research,
however, found that these problems could be solved if nutrient exports in the form
of crops were counterbalanced by supplementation in the form of composted process-
ing residues, manure, limestone, and the addition of N
2 - ﬁ xing plants (Alfaia et al .
2004, 2009 ) .
Near the city of Altamira, on the Transamazon Highway in Pará (Fig. 4 ),
cooperatives that emerged in the last decade as part of an alternative vision of
regional sustainable development led by the Foundation for Life, Production and
Preservation ( Fundação Viver, Produzir, Preservar , FVPP) are producing organically
certi ﬁ ed cacao in agroforestry systems (Schwartzman et al . 2010 ) . Although cacao
has been the most important cash crop produced in the region through agroforestry
since the 1970s (Mendes 2005 ) , diversi ﬁ ed production systems developed in the
framework of the Organic Production Program are steadily gaining visibility due to
the quality and productivity of cacao, with access to organic market niches resulting
in a local price premium of up to 40% over the price for noncerti ﬁ ed cacao (Silva
et al . 2009 ) . As an additional incentive, there is the prospect for cacao AFS to be
accepted as a permitted land use in properties’ “Legal Reserve”
24 of forest cover
(see the discussion later in this chapter).
In the northwestern portion of Mato Grosso state (Fig. 4 ), more than 1,400 ha
of improved AFS have been installed by colonists and extractivists, prioritizing
shaded coffee, cacao, peach palm, native timber, and species for frozen fruit pulp.
The initiative, funded in part by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and the
state government, with support of the United Nations Development Program
(UNDP), also distributed over a 10-year period approximately a million tree
seedlings of assorted species to help recuperate degraded landscapes.
As part of
this project, a study of the species composition in 83 2,000 m
2 agroforestry plots in
43 landholdings showed that native canopy species count for 36% of the most
frequent individuals in AFS, including Brazil nut and Bagassa guianensis Aubl. , a
timber species valued for carpentry and construction. These ﬁ gures point to a
complementary role of agroforestry in conserving valuable species that are threat-
ened in Amazonian forests.
Cattle production under silvopastoral systems is still incipient in the Amazon,
particularly in Brazil, and certainly presents major challenges for widespread
adoption. However, in Caquetá (Fig.
4 ), the state of the Colombian Amazon
with most relevant agricultural development, and where ranching is the principal
activity for the local rural economy, an ongoing process of diversi ﬁ cation is leading
to the formation of silvopastoral and other AFS with positive results.
27 Farmers with
on average 50 ha of pastures allow some natural tree regeneration as well as establish-
ing small areas with woody species to provide forage (Guayara et al . 2009 ) . These
farmers are convinced of the need to diversify their production systems and reduce
the area devoted to grazing. Other emerging agroforestry initiatives in Caquetá are
perennial crops in multistrata systems, combined with grazing areas and forested
plots. Predominant are AFS based on the integration of rubber, cacao, timber spe-
cies such as Cariniana pyriformis Miers , Cedrelinga cateniformis Ducke , Cedrela
odorata L. , Cordia alliodora (Ruiz & Pav.) Oken , and Tectona grandis L. f. and
Amazonian fruit species ( Eugenia stipitata McVaugh , Borojoa patinoi Cuatrec. ,
cupuaçu , and Theobroma bicolor Bonpl.).
Wealthier farmers of the Andean Amazon slopes in Ecuador also tend to invest
in ranching and have been increasingly intensifying their systems through the
integration of pastures with trees and shrubs for multiple uses, in various combinations
of species, spatial and temporal arrangements. In an area where the dairy industry
has been increasingly installing processing plants, these farmers usually bene ﬁ t
from fertile soils, are close to markets, and served by paved roads. Credit and rural
extension services are fairly accessible, while commercial ﬁ rms provide needed
supplies and inputs for silvopastoral development.
Since 1992, rural communities in Beni and Pando in the Northern Amazon region of
Bolivia (Fig. 4 ) are implementing a participatory Community Development Strategy
with support from the Institute for Society, Agriculture and Ecology (IPHAE, Instituto
para el Hombre, Agricultura y Ecología ), a locally based Bolivian NGO. A prominent
activity is the production of cupuaçu, cacao, peach palm, Brazil nut, açaí, majo
( Oenocarpus bataua C. Mart.), and a number of valued timber species as components
of AFS targeting agro-industrial use. More than 15 communities are implementing and
managing AFS with cacao, with an average production greater than 700 kg of dry seed
per ha. In total, IPHAE has contributed to the implementation of more than 1,500 ha of
AFS focused on food security and sustainable production chains (Llanque et al . 2009 ) .
The conditions are now set for organic and eco-social certi ﬁ cation, which will enable
access to export markets. Increased production led to the establishment of the ﬁ rst
cupuaçu processing company in Bolivia, “ Madre Tierra Amazonía, ” formed with
private capital and having as its largest shareholders the communities themselves.
Furthermore, peach palm, which was unknown in the region, begins to position itself in
the local market, principally as a staple feed for pigs raised by smallholder families. Alto
Beni (Fig. 4 ) is another region in Bolivia with important agroforestry developments,
with emphasis on the enrichment of organically grown cacao with valuable perennial
woody species (Vega and Somarriba 2005 ) .
404 R. Porro et al.
In the so-called Suriname Forestry belt, inland from the coastal region, taungya
systems implemented by the government’s Forest Service (LBB) were common
during the 1960s and 1970s. Cassava, pumpkin ( Cucurbita maxima Duchesne ex Lam.),
ginger ( Zingiber of ﬁ cinale Roscoe), and pineapple ( Ananas comosus (L.) Merr.) were
grown in young plantations of Pinus caribaea Morelet, Cordia alliodora (Ruiz &
Pav.) Oken, Cedrela odorata L., Swietenia spp., and Eucalyptus spp. 29 However,
armed con ﬂ ict in the interior from 1986 to 1992 virtually decimated the infrastructure
of the Forest Service, and the forest plantations were abandoned.
16 Despite dif ﬁ culties
and constraints, the Centre for Agricultural Research in Suriname (CELOS) is attempt-
ing to revitalize agroforestry research in the country and has achieved some successes
with the introduction of Gliricidia sepium (Jacq.) Kunth ex Walp. for improved
fallows and as a service tree submitted to regular pruning, in systems including
groundnuts ( Arachis hypogaea L.) and black gram or urdi ( Vigna mungo L.). 16 The
introduction of palm species such as Attalea maripa (Aubl.) C. Mart. in agroforestry is
particularly seen as a potential practice to aggregate the bene ﬁ ts of valuable palm fruits.
This brief overview with snapshots of both traditional and externally supported
agroforestry initiatives in the Pan-Amazon by no means intends to be comprehen-
sive but rather has the objective of illustrating the diversity of both agroforestry and
social-environmental contexts in the Amazon. It is clear, however, that contrasting
with homegardens and shifting cultivation, which are ubiquitous in the region (as is
the case with many parts of the humid tropics), examples of planned or organized
AFS in the region are mostly small-scale and minor elements of the agricultural
landscape. It is also apparent that there are commonalities across the countries with
Amazonian territories that result in low adoption of AFS, despite the fact that AFS
have been on the international development agenda for at least three decades. The
next sections address these common challenges and limitations, focusing on three
principal aspects: research achievements and perspectives, constraints to adoption,
and policy prospects for agroforestry in the Amazon.
Research and Dissemination Efforts in Amazon Agroforestry
In the Brazilian Amazon, institutional efforts with regard to agroforestry research date
back approximately 35 years. In 1975, Paulo de Tarso Alvim, of CEPLAC, Brazil’s
cacao board, planted the ﬁ rst agroforestry experiment in Manaus that was a little more
complex than providing shade for cacao. This was followed by INPA which installed
its “fruit-salad” agroforestry system with six fruit trees and then the “food forest”
system in 1978, with a mix of peach palm, jackfruit ( Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam.),
and breadfruit ( A. altilis (Parkinson) Fosberg) (van Leeuwen et al.
1997 ) . During the
1989–1991 period, six regional centers of the Brazilian Enterprise for Agriculture and
Livestock (Embrapa) were renamed as Agroforestry Research Centers ( Centros de
Pesquisa Agro ﬂ orestal ), theoretically indicating a shift in research priorities from
monocultures and pastures toward agroforestry. A recent survey by Brienza Júnior
et al. ( 2010 ) of agroforestry literature for the Brazilian Amazon from 1980 to 2005
identi ﬁ ed nearly 500 publications, potentially providing lessons to be used in agrofor-
estry research planning and in the formulation of agroforestry policies and programs.
A similar effort is being conducted by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF),
through the development of a web portal that provides open access to a database com-
prised of more than 2,500 scienti ﬁ c and technical publications (manuals, project
reports) relating to agroforestry in the Brazilian (1,629), Peruvian (688) and Colombian
(249) Amazon since 1980. The portal
30 allows access to the publications’ abstract, or
to the complete documents, according to authors’ licensing. The database of publica-
tions on the Brazilian Amazon has been available since 2010, and the ones for the
Peruvian and Colombian Amazon will be integrated in 2012.
Although the volume of research conducted in recent years has led to some
advances, in many cases, progress has not been made to the point of offering clear-cut
solutions. Even after three decades of research, agroforestry is still not recognized
as a viable strategy for regional development, in part because of insuf ﬁ cient capacities
of training institutions such as agro-technical schools and Amazon universities.
With some exceptions, these institutions tend to operate under traditional mindsets
that do not enable students and future professionals to address the multiple aspects
of agriculture in a landscape perspective, nor the diversity and local particularity of
agroforestry alternatives that farmers themselves may have developed. This context
is not conducive to developing processes of participatory research focusing on
innovations, which should be supported by dedicated extension services to Amazon
smallholder farmers and communities. One of the major challenges for the widespread
adoption of agroforestry is how to set up mechanisms for the continuous sharing
and ﬂ ow of local and scienti ﬁ c knowledge between institutions that produce or
compile information and a variety of end users. Related to this is the dissemination
of successful practices at the pilot level to similar contexts, so that they are progres-
sively applied, adjusted, and validated. At the same time, a number of agroforestry
initiatives with practical results have been insuf ﬁ ciently monitored by research
institutes and universities, such that technical information (growth rates, suitability
of species mixtures, and market prices) needed by ﬁ nancial institutions to create
credit options for agroforestry is not currently available.
During a recent meeting (December 15–16, 2010) sponsored by ICRAF in
Belém, Pará, the more than 30 researchers and technicians present clearly indicated
some of the gaps in research/extension that prevent agroforestry from reaching its
potential in the region. The conclusions of the meeting include:
Research institutions and universities have generated a vast amount of data and •
information on agroforestry, but this has not trickled down to the various end
users, whether farmers, extension agents, or agricultural technical schools.
The best examples of successful AFS have been generated by creative farmers. •
However, these systems generally are speci ﬁ c to local social, economic, and eco-
logical conditions and may not be applicable in other situations.
“Farmer experimenters” have a fundamental role in deriving information from •
complex systems, as these are often out of the grasp of conventional agronomic
406 R. Porro et al.
Farmers and their associations must be heard when research priorities and agendas •
are being established.
Obviously, inadequate research and extension is only one facet of the problem of
low adoption. The eight Brazilian Congresses on Agroforestry Systems (CBSAFs)
held since 1994 have always had a strong Amazonian focus and have accumulated
results of research efforts that clearly show in a number of situations and examples
that agroforestry makes sense from social, economic, and environmental perspectives.
As such, it is no longer necessary to ask: W hat is the potential role of agroforestry
in the Amazon? But rather: Which mechanisms can support the achievement of this
potential? If agroforestry is to go beyond subsistence toward income generation,
prime considerations must include a better understanding of the reality of markets
and economic issues, as well as the constraints faced by Amazon farmers to land use
intensi ﬁ cation. These issues and constraints are the main subject of the next section.
Constraints for Agroforestry Adoption in the Amazon
Many agroforestry projects and programs introducing supposedly sound management
options have had little success in terms of adoption and impact. This lack of success
has often been attributed to market problems, “resistance” by farmers, and limited
support from government, among other factors. In this regard, the development of
agroforestry in the Amazon requires deeper discussions on the opportunities and
limitations of low-income producers to participate in value chains for their products
as a means of reducing poverty through engagement with the private sector
(Humphrey 2005 ; Kaplinsky 2000 ). 31
In tropical Latin America, these products have often included certi ﬁ ed coffee and
cacao ( Kilian et al. 2005 ). 32 Although international markets for these products
have experienced high volatility over recent years, including sustained price drops,
as was the case for coffee in the late 1990s and cacao in the early 2000s, demand has
grown for organic, high-quality, and fair trade certi ﬁ ed cacao and coffee. Participation
in organic certi ﬁ ed markets, however, requires a long-term commitment to sustain-
able and relatively restrictive production modes, as well as collective business orga-
nization to access group certi ﬁ cation, obtain minimum volumes, and forge strategic
alliances with downstream stakeholders. Meeting these requirements can imply in
considerable costs for small producers and their enterprises (Weber 2011 ) .
The sustainable livelihood framework (Scoones
1998 ) linking inputs (assets)
and outputs (livelihood strategies), connected in turn to outcomes, which include
income and employment, as well as wider framings, such as well-being and sus-
tainability, has highlighted the need of many rural households to ﬁ nd ways to com-
bine subsistence with market-oriented agriculture and to balance on-farm with
off-farm income sources (Stoian 2005 ) . The prospects for achieving pro-poor value
chain development may be enhanced through a “multichain” approach
on identifying and responding to opportunities for more established markets (e.g.,
coffee and cacao), as well as those for “secondary chains” (e.g., non-timber forest
products, fruits, timber).
In some situations, participation of agroforestry producers in value chains
depends on access to economically viable collective enterprises that link to distant
buyers and also provide critical services to their members, such as credit and techni-
cal assistance. Although there have been positive experiences with links to interna-
tional and national markets for coffee, cacao, Brazil nut, and other products, the
development pathways of those successful enterprises have often been long and
winding and have depended on considerable support from government and NGOs
(Bebbington et al.
1996 ). 34 Identifying more effective and ef ﬁ cient alternatives for
supporting these enterprises is critical for improving the marketing options of
Besides collective enterprises, individually owned small and medium enterprises
also can provide the link to value chains for agroforestry products. Improvements in
drying, storing, grading, processing, packaging, branding, and negotiating can
greatly improve pro ﬁ tability. In the GEF/UNDP project in NW Mato Grosso, Brazil,
for example, portable sawmills operating at a cost of US$ 200 per processed cubic
meter lead to a daily pro ﬁ t of US$ 948 for farmers who processed 4 m
3 timber per
day (PC Nunes, personal communication, October 2010). Dissemination of effective
small-scale timber processing units can provide to those farmers planting timber
trees the equivalent to what small-scale processing facilities for cacao and coffee
represented to farmers at other stages of entrepreneurial success worldwide. However,
government regulations and the policy-legal frameworks often discriminate against
small-scale enterprises in the forest sector, favoring products and practices more
suited to larger operations (Kaimowitz 2006 ) . In the case of portable sawmills in
Mato Grosso, legal restrictions and bureaucratic barriers to the sale of native timber
species means that sawn lumber can only be sold locally, to neighbors in the same
Besides the lack of training opportunities for small-scale agroforest-based enter-
prises, as well as the scarcity of technical and market information, there are limitations
in the supply of rural credit suitable to speci ﬁ c conditions of agroforestry producers.
Available sources of rural credit are usually inadequate for forestry operations and
even more for agroforestry. Except for speci ﬁ c credit policies such as Brazil’s North
Region Constitutional Fund (FNO) Forest and the National Family Agriculture
Program (PRONAF), such as PRONAF Forestry and PRONAF Eco, interest rates
and grace periods are incompatible with smallholders’ conditions and with the
production schedules of many native species. Information about available sources
of credit does not ﬂ ow as it should from ﬁ nancial agencies to extension agents and
farmers. Furthermore, taking on credit can be a great risk for smallholders who do
not have safety nets that buffer against the potential problems involved in more
intensive input-based agriculture in remote areas.
Agroforestry development efforts will continue to meet with failure if they do
not acknowledge or engage with the issues discussed in this section: improved
market chains, recognition of livelihood frameworks, support for collective enter-
prises, and appropriate credit options. Of equal importance is an understanding of
408 R. Porro et al.
the underlying social dynamics comprised by speci ﬁ c livelihood strategies often
involving nuances of ethnicity, religion, occupation, gender, and age issues, all of
which govern individuals and communities’ relations to broader economic and
Beyond these issues, the lack of adoption of agroforestry’s technological and
management options may be related to the costs involved in intensi ﬁ cation of land
use, which may be out of reach for most smallholders. Where agricultural frontiers
are still open to colonization, intensi ﬁ cation is certainly more costly to farmers
than extensive options – such as deforesting new areas. Although perennial crops
make a signi ﬁ cant difference in household income and stability in regions such as
the Transamazon highway in Pará (Walker et al . 2000 ) , these crops require initial
investments often beyond most farmers’ means, and annual cropping followed by
pasture establishment remains the norm in most frontier regions. Lastly, it must be
kept in mind that low-income farmers and traditional communities in the Amazon
are usually distant from a condition of fully accessing their rights associated with
citizenship. The removal of constraints for an effective dissemination and an
enhanced adoption of agroforestry in the Amazon thus require equitable develop-
ment policies and programs that could support these initiatives, which is the focus
of next section.
Public Policies and Support for Agroforestry:
How to Increase Effectiveness?
Although public policies for the Amazon have begun to engage in a more compre-
hensive approach to the sustainable management of natural resources, a number of
contradictions are still in place. In Brazil, for example, while control mechanisms
such as real-time satellite monitoring of deforestation have made signi ﬁ cant progress
in reducing forest clearance, other government initiatives support activities directly
or indirectly associated with pressure on forests and ecosystem integrity, such as
highways and hydroelectric dams, programs for the expansion of large-scale oil-palm
plantations, and funding for meat-processing facilities. Meanwhile, most attempts
to support practices and products linked to the sustainable use of Amazon’s social
and biological diversity have had less concrete results due to institutional weakness,
lack of investment, reduced levels of participation by land users, poor governance,
and limited exchange of information.
Despite these drawbacks, Brazil has a broad range of agricultural, environmental,
ﬁ nancial and land tenure policies and programs directly or potentially linked to
agroforestry development. While recent changes in this policy framework bring
opportunities for new developments in agroforestry, many challenges still remain
to make intensi ﬁ cation of production systems ﬁ nancially possible to smallholders.
In this section, we address some of the principal opportunities and challenges to
agroforestry that can be considered as belonging to the domain of policy.
Land and Tree Tenure
Innovative policy and institutional approaches involving Amazon communities are
needed to assure that farmers have secure title and will bene ﬁ t from investments in
their lands and forests. Regulations that restrict the harvesting and selling of timber
from planted trees of valuable species, for example, increase farmers’ uncertainty
about such investments, and discourage tree planting. Particularly for species threat-
ened with extinction and listed in the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species (CITES), for example, mahogany, farmers simply cannot
obtain permits for their harvest, even when it is clear that the trees were planted.
Such restrictions caused by legal framework prevent farmers from installing and
expanding their AFS and will become an increasingly important concern as more
farmers plant native timber species as part of their systems.
The New Forest Code
Not all developments in the political arena can be classed as positive. The polariza-
tion of interests between conservation of forests vs. agricultural land use recently
came to a head in the debate over the reform of Brazil’s Forest Code (Law 4771).
The original Code, established in 1965, de ﬁ nes, among other items, the legal limit
for the minimum width of strips of riparian forest to be kept along watercourses and
the areas of Legal Reserve of forest to be maintained on rural properties, according
to biome. The new version, approved by the Congress in May 2012 relaxes a num-
ber of these provisions and amnesties past deforestation that exceeds legal limits, all
in the name of bene ﬁ tting farmers.
Unfortunately, agroforestry has been absent in this debate, despite its poten-
tial contribution to offer alternative and more environmentally friendly forms of
land use and to defuse the polarization of interests that has established a dichot-
omy between trees and agriculture. Paradoxically, a recent report by the
Secretariat of Strategic Affairs of the Presidency (SAE/PR) indicates the exis-
tence of very signi ﬁ cant amounts of degraded agricultural lands with potential
for silviculture and suggests the creation of a national policy for planted forests,
with the goal of doubling the area under plantation forestry over 10 years
(Secretaria de Assuntos Estratégicos 2011).35 Although the focus of such a policy
would apparently be on monocultures, signi ﬁ cant social and environmental gains
are still possible. Technicians involved in teak plantations in northwestern Mato
Grosso indicate that silvicultural enterprises directly employ approximately 30
times more workers than do cattle ranches on an equivalent sized area.
De ﬁ nition of the legal framework encompassing AFS (in their multiple expres-
sions) is indeed critical for policies and programs to promote agroforestry. In
2009, the Brazilian Ministry of Environment issued technical norms and proce-
dures for the use of vegetation within the landholders’ forest reserves through
sustainable management and other measures, as well as procedures for restoration
410 R. Porro et al.
and rehabilitation of Permanent Preservation Areas (APP) and Legal Reserves
(RL) established by the Forest Code. In 2011, the National Environment Council
(CONAMA) issued regulations for the recuperation of APPs. These dispositions,
however, only address the use of AFS for the rehabilitation of areas subject to
environmental regulation, such as APPs and RLs, and do not consider agrofor-
estry’s productive functions.
Payment for Environmental Services
Federal and state policies in Brazil have advanced regarding the recognition of eco-
system services provided by forests and the role of local communities in maintaining
or enhancing these services. A ﬁ rst attempt in this direction was the Pro-Ambiente
program ( Programa de Desenvolvimento Socioambiental da Produção Familiar
Rural ), which after being discussed by NGOs and rural workers’ movements from
2000 to 2003, in 2004 became a project sponsored by the Ministry of Environment.
Pro-Ambiente was designed to compensate farmers for adopting environmentally
friendly practices in ten sites in the Amazon. However, a number of dif ﬁ culties, the
principal being the lack of a legal de ﬁ nition as to how government can pay indi-
vidual farmers for environmental services, led to the program being discontinued
(Mattos 2006 ) .
From the operational viewpoint at least, more success has been shown by the
Bolsa Floresta program sponsored by Amazonas state, now reaching almost 8,000
families in 15 extractive and sustainable development reserves (RESEX and RDS)
and a state forest. The program focuses on four components: (a) investments in
sustainable production; (b) investments in health, education, transportation and
communications; (c) strengthening of associations and visibility of the program;
and (d) payments to families that reduce deforestation.
In September 2011, the federal government launched the Bolsa Verde , targeting
low-income families that receive bene ﬁ ts in other federal programs and live in either
RESEX or environmentally differentiated colonization projects. In order to receive
this bene ﬁ t, funded by the Ministry for Social Development (MDS) and adminis-
tered by the Ministry of Environment (MMA), along with the Ministry of Agrarian
Development (MDA), heads of families must agree to comply with the management
plans for the reserve or project, which place limits on certain activities, such as the
amount of forest area that can be annually converted to agriculture. An estimated
14,000 families from over 100 extractive reserves in the Amazon will be included in
the ﬁ rst phase of this program.
The Forest Code was also a benchmark for Payment for Environmental Services
to farmers. The former code established the legal percent of land that must be set
aside as Legal Forest Reserve (80% of the area in the Amazon), including riparian
forests for landholdings with less than 400 ha. The new code modi ﬁ ed this rule, and
intrinsically, what is the accepted “additionality,” or the percent over the legally
protected forest that a farmer must keep, which could be the subject of a contract to
be sold as Environmental Services (e.g., water regulation and quality, carbon stocks,
biodiversity, or all these services as a bundle). Again, changes in the Forest Code
will intensify the debate on legal frameworks, PES, positive and negative feedbacks
of economic incentives, and the role of AFS.
Unfortunately, rural technical assistance and extension services have been viewed
as a burden for public budgets in Brazil since the early 1990s, rather than as invest-
ments in sustainable development strategies (Caporal 2006 ) . Moreover, existing
services lack preparation and knowledge for working with agroforestry. Nevertheless,
since 2003, the MDA has included the concept of an “agroecological transition” in
its extension policies. Furthermore, Operation Green Arc
36 has prioritized agrofor-
estry systems and has boosted ﬁ nancing mechanisms and the training of extension
agents to help farmers access credit. A direct consequence of these actions was the
recent positive change in Brazilian rural credit policy, through which MDA autho-
rized that, as of August 2011, an initial set of agroforestry systems would be
eligible for loans. Thirty-two combinations of two perennial species are listed,
such as açaí, cacao, coffee, citrus, and Brazil nut, associated with other fruit or
timber trees. The species included are 12 fruit trees (with a predominance of citrus),
nine timber trees, four palms (for various uses), three commodity crops, two nut
trees, and two beverage crops, representing possibilities for both the Amazon and
Atlantic Rainforest biomes. While perhaps still insuf ﬁ cient to meet the range of
needs of each user community, this initiative is a positive step in supporting AFS
through ﬁ nancial mechanisms.
Agroecological Management and Institutional Markets
Although not directly targeting agroforestry, other recent government initiatives
looking toward more sustainable agricultural practices include the Federal Program
for the Environmental Adjustment of Rural Properties, known as “ Mais Ambiente ”
or Environment Plus, and the National Agroecology Program, recently announced
by the Environment Minister. In terms of establishing demand for agroforestry
products, the Food Acquisition Program ( Programa de Aquisição de Alimentos,
PAA ) for direct purchase of several family farm-originated products and the
National School Feeding Program ( Programa Nacional de Alimentação Escolar,
PNAE ) have created channels for small-scale farmers to market their products to
schools and other government buyers. Both programs encourage agroecological
management and have the advantage of targeting relatively stable and usually local
412 R. Porro et al.
Municipal Level Initiatives
A promising source for municipal level investments in agroforestry and other
sustainable land use options is ICMS-Ecológico or ecological value-added tax on
goods and services (VAT) (May et al . 2002 ) . According to Brazil’s federal law, 25%
of VAT must return to municipalities, and a proportionally small but signi ﬁ cant
share of the proceeds from such taxes (17 and 12%, respectively, for state level and
interstate transactions) goes to those municipalities with part of their land area in
conservation units, including indigenous territories in certain states. These revenues,
however, with some exceptions, are currently incorporated into the overall municipal
budget. An ongoing policy research project
37 aims to offer a different perspective for
the calculation (considering agroforestry in private lands as part of the area under
forest cover) and suggests the creation of municipal funds for the sustainable use
and conservation of forests to be governed by a council composed of government
and civil society representatives. Such a proposition will encourage municipalities
to maintain the integrity of their protected areas and stimulate comanagement
mechanisms with smallholders and local communities. Nonetheless, incorpora-
tion of AFS in ICMS initiatives appears to be incipient, and no information is available
at the moment as to whether any municipalities have regulated the mechanism to favor
AFS or any other tree planting option.
Some Conclusions with Regard to Policy
There is a broad collection of policies that can in ﬂ uence adoption of agroforestry in
Brazil and the Amazon region, ranging from land tenure policies, land use policies,
rural credit, research and extension policies, as well as opportunities for exploring
subsidies and programs geared toward environmental issues. However, all of these
operate in a fragmented manner, and not as a cohesive whole of what could be a
more comprehensive policy for the Amazon, with agroforestry as a common thread
for supporting and linking various government initiatives related to reduction of
poverty and hunger, reduction of deforestation, reduction of CO
2 emissions, and
mitigation of climate change.
One of the ﬁ rst questions to be asked in regard to a more comprehensive policy
for agroforestry is how to bring the accumulated experience and local success
stories to another level, the much sought-after “scaling-up.” This task involves a set
of disparate social actors, ranging from small-scale farmers to bureaucrats in the
nation’s capital, and for these different actors to interact positively, agroforestry
must be presented as a crosscutting concept that links a number of themes, including
poverty reduction, food security, climatic bene ﬁ ts, and biodiversity conservation.
While obtaining the support of these sectors of society and a coalition of govern-
ment agencies for a national agroforestry, policy or policies and related programs
represent a great challenge; bringing these different stakeholders together signi ﬁ es
the possibility of creating a broad base of economic, political, and technical support,
especially if regional differences are respected and represented. In recent years,
policy initiatives in Brazil, such as the National Policy on Traditional Peoples and
Communities, which became law in 2007, or the National Policy for Territorial and
Environmental Management of Indigenous Lands (signed on June 5, 2012), have
involved a series of regional consultations, and if a similar mechanism is used to
generate a national agroforestry policy, this policy would certainly be more attuned
to local needs than would a policy created only in government of ﬁ ces! As agrofor-
estry comprises a great variety and complexity of arrangements and options, even
within the same biome, any policy propositions must be ﬂ exible enough to absorb
these regional differences and realities.
Agroforestry and Climate Change Mitigation:
An Additional Way Forward
Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Uses (AFOLU) represent over 30% of
anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), and the agricultural sector
accounts for almost half of these (Parry et al. 2007 ) . In some Amazonian countries,
70% of human-induced annual emissions of carbon dioxide (CO
2 ) are caused by
deforestation and forest degradation (PNUMA and OTCA 2008 ) . Besides provid-
ing globally valued hydrological, biodiversity and cultural services, the Amazon
forest is recognized as one of the major terrestrial carbon reservoirs of the world.
Saatchi et al. ( 2007 ) estimate total carbon in the Amazon basin’s forest biomass
in the order of 86 PgC ± 20%, equivalent to 33–53% of the amount globally stored
in tropical forest biomass (Parry et al. 2007 ) . Carbon stock varies according to for-
est types, intensity of use, altitudinal gradient, among other factors, and Table 1
summarizes results of studies of such stocks across a range of Amazon forest
typologies. The restoration of degraded areas using land use systems with high
carbon stocks, such as agroforestry, combined with the conservation of existing for-
ests, is one of the most cost-ef ﬁ cient options to mitigate climate change (Parry
et al. 2007 ; Stern 2006 ) . Moreover, the fundamental feature of directly contributing
to livelihoods is the best argument for agroforestry’s role in climate change
mitigation in the Amazon. Nonetheless, this will only be true when overall bene ﬁ ts
(derived from mechanisms rewarding carbon sequestration, avoided deforestation,
and reduced emissions) are channeled to local stakeholders such as rural tradi-
tional communities and smallholder farmers at a signi ﬁ cant scale (Hall 2008 ) .
How this will work on the ground, however, is not yet clear, as most market-driven
carbon projects tend to focus on large areas of forest, involving lower transaction
and implementation costs and further permanence than initiatives involving
During the most recent United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change (UNFCCC) Conference (COP-16; 2010), Reduced Emissions from
Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD +) was
414 R. Porro et al.
approved as a mechanism to promote activities aiming to conserve and increase
biomass in forests, enhancing their carbon sink function. REDD+ entails conserva-
tion, sustainable forest management, and increased forest carbon stocks in develop-
ing countries. Also in 2010, REDD++ was proposed by institutions outside the
UNFCCC framework to include agricultural practices that prevent deforestation.
Under the proposed REDD++ framework, producers using trees in their systems
would be eligible to receive carbon credits rewarding their contribution to reduce
deforestation and to restock terrestrial carbon through various land use types. The
amount of carbon stored in agroforestry systems depends on the species and their
density, age and management, and factors such as soil type and organic matter, local
climate, and speci ﬁ c landscape features (Nair et al.
2010 ) . Table 2 summarizes
assessments of carbon content for AFS in the Amazon region.
Among Amazonian countries, Brazil’s position at the UNFCCC is well known
for not accepting a binding mechanism for reduction targets proposed by Annex I
members (Forneri et al . 2006 ) . Therefore, in terms of climate change mitigation
programs in 2010 Brazil started to implement more diffuse emission reduction
actions through the Amazon Fund,
38 with ﬁ nancial resources voluntarily provided
by the governments of Norway and Germany. Among other objectives, these
resources can be used to promote productive alternatives to avoid deforestation,
which can include agroforestry. Brazilian civil society institutions, on the other
hand, are preparing contributions to the Sectorial Plan for Mitigation and Adaptation
to Climate Change (Decree no. 7390/2010) which includes the consolidation of a
“Low Carbon Emission Agriculture” (Agricultura de Baixo Carbono , ABC).
Launched in 2010 by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA),
with funds on the order of US$ 1.25 billion, one of the goals of the ABC program
is to increase to 4 million ha the area under Crop-Livestock-Forestry integration,
the agroforestry-based proposal presented by Embrapa, consequently reducing
emission of 18–22 million Mg of CO
2 eq. Although the ﬁ gure of 4 million ha can be
considered small in regard to the total area under agriculture and ranching, the
accomplishment of this target would represent a very important ﬁ rst step in consoli-
dating viable land use alternatives.
Regardless of which mechanisms will be approved and implemented at the inter-
national level, mitigation actions should not be disconnected from actions targeting
adaptation to climate change (Nair 2012 ) . Modeling exercises involving the predic-
tion and evaluation of future impacts of climate change on the distribution of key
agricultural species in the Peruvian Amazon, for instance, suggested a shift in the
areas with favorable climatic conditions for these species. The negative impacts of
these changes can be minimized through the regulation of local site conditions by
agroforestry management, thus enhancing smallholders’ capacity for adaptation
and decreasing the vulnerability of their agricultural systems.
Table 1 Carbon ﬁ xation and accumulation in different forest types in the Amazon region
Aboveground (Mg C ha
−1 ) Belowground
(Mg C ha
−1 ) Source
Forest Undisturbed 258.3 148.0 Rodrigues et al. ( 1999 )42
158.9 32.4 (40 cm) Fujisaka et al. (
161.7 Alegre et al. ( 2000 )43
277.7–337.5 Yquise et al. ( 2009 )44
294.0 Palm et al. ( 2004 )
322.0 ± 20 Salimon et al. ( 2011 )
367.0 98.8 Callo-Concha et al. ( 2002 )
Managed/logged 140.5 85.1 95.9 Callo-Concha et al. ( 2002 )
105.8 ± 23.7 Fearnside et al. ( 2007 )
116.7 43.6 Lapeyre ( 2003 )45
122.8–293.7 (40 y.) Alegre et al. ( 2000 )
126.3 (6 y.) Yquise et al. ( 2009 )
150.0 (123–185) Palm et al. (
( Mauritia ﬂ exuosa )
118.7 97.6–139.9 315.5–433.5 Guzmán and Arévalo ( 2003 )46
Lowland, ﬂ ooded
forest ( varzea )
109.0 80.0 Klinge et al. ( 1995 )
138.0 Tsuchiya and Hiraoka ( 1999 )
416 R. Porro et al.
Aboveground (Mg C ha
−1 ) Belowground
(Mg C ha
−1 ) Source
Forest fallow 20 years (y.) 62.0 62.0 Lapeyre ( 2003 )
15 y. 132.2 100.0 Brown and Lugo ( 1990 )
15 y. 117.5 39.9 Lapeyre ( 2003 )
15 y. 126.1–185.3 Alegre et al. ( 2000 )
12–14 y. 128.1 128.1 Feldpausch et al. ( 2004 )
7 y. 34.0 26.4 Denich et al. 2005
4–6 y. 54.4 Feldpausch et al.
5 y. 11.2 Rodrigues et al. 1999
5 y. 43.9 Alegre et al. ( 2000 )
3 y. 16.4 18.7–20.9
21 months 9.7 Denich et al. ( 2005 )
2 years enriched 19.0 13.0 Rodrigues et al. ( 1999 )
21 months enriched
a 19.3 Denich et al. ( 2005 )
21 months enriched
Undetermined age 55.5 43.0 ± 6.5 Fearnside et al. ( 2007 )
68.0 34.3 (40 cm) Fujisaka et al. (
5 years 9.2 6.9 (4.3–9.61) Palm et al. ( 2004 )
5 years; enriched 11.5 (9.5–13.4)
23 years 93.0 80.5–101
a Enriched with Acacia auriculiformis (2 × 2 m)
b Enriched with Acacia auriculiformis (1 × 1 m)
Table 1 (continued)
Considering the variety of land use situations and diverse social contexts found in
the Amazon, agroforestry practices have an important role to play in helping to meet
the short- and long-term needs of environmental conservation and the economic
well-being of the Amazon population, as components of sustainable land use
systems that avoid further deforestation and support local livelihoods, provide
environmental services, and envision improved governance.
A variety of successful experiences with agroforestry exist in Brazil and other
countries with territories in the Amazon Basin (Smith et al.
1996 ; Porro 2009 ). Most
of these are empirical, arising from farmers’ experimentation, or have resulted from
externally supported projects or initiatives, often funded by international coopera-
tion, that have helped to build and reinforce social-technical networks for agroeco-
logical practices in the Amazon. Although Brazil has a 30-year record of research
in AFS that has generated signi ﬁ cant knowledge, the link to the practical experi-
ences has been insuf ﬁ cient. While a research orientation toward a greater recogni-
tion of farmers’ roles in generating and testing new technologies is an important
step, proper public policies also are necessary to achieve the objective of securing
landscapes and rural livelihoods. On a property level, an important starting point is
the goal of a greater presence of trees on farms, in keeping with the idea of an “ever-
green agriculture” now used by the World Agroforestry Centre to address the direct
interface of agroforestry with intensive agricultural systems (Garrity et al. 2010 ) .
This potential can also be achieved in situations and arrangements where agricul-
tural production occurs sequentially and/or adjacent to forested landscapes which is
the situation of many smallholders, traditional communities, and indigenous peo-
ples in the Amazon. Agroforestry has an equally important role to play in the
Amazon’s already cleared landscapes, through restoring forest cover and increasing
stocks of biomass. However, clear ﬁ nancial incentives must be in place if agrofor-
estry is to be used for landscape recuperation, as this is generally more costly than
implementing agroforestry strictly for production purposes.
Clearly, agroforestry must be seen as a crosscutting concept in order to achieve its
full potential in the context of Amazonian and the humid tropics in general. As a
broader strategy of dynamic and sustainable natural resource management, agroforestry
should be capable of bridging gaps between policies, and particularly linking envi-
ronmental opportunities with economic realities. In particular, the search for policy
alternatives to the impacts resulting from drastic changes in land use in the Amazon
acquires a critical dimension for those vulnerable social groups whose livelihood
is strictly dependent on agriculture and forestry. Facing restrictions posed by ever-
decreasing entitlements to land and resources, these peoples need speci ﬁ c tools and
mechanisms to assist the adjustment of their traditional production systems to the
environmental challenges of the twenty- ﬁ rst century. From a demographic viewpoint,
frontier regions in the Amazon now have a generation of youths or young adults who,
unlike their colonist parents, generally migrants from other parts of Brazil, grew up in
the Amazonian environment and have a much better understanding of local realities.
418 R. Porro et al.
Table 2 Carbon ﬁ xation and accumulation in different agroforestry and tree crop systems in the Amazon region
Land use system Management system/type/age Aboveground (Mg C ha
(Mg C ha
−1 ) Source
Complex agroforests Multistrata; 7 years 44.3 15.5–49.5 Schroth et al. ( 2001 )
Multistrata 19–47 Lapeyre ( 2003 )
Multistrata a 58.6 Alegre et al. ( 2000 )\
Multistrata + Centrosema
59.0 Callo-Concha et al. ( 2002 )
Multistrata 61.2 (47.5–74.7) Palm et al. ( 2004 )
Homegarden 84.8 84.8 110.5 Callo-Concha et al. ( 2002 )
Lowland agroforest 134.3 134.3 Santos ( 2002, 47 2004 )
Simple agroforests Peach palm based
b 45.0 45.0 Gonçalves ( 2010 )48
Cacao based c 68.9 96.5–104.7 Yquise et al. ( 2009 )
Cacao based d 72.03
Cacao based e 26.2 Callo-Concha et al. ( 2007 )
Cacao based f 45.1
Coffee based g 88.7 80.1 113.5 Callo-Concha et al. ( 2002 )
Coffee based h 97.2 Rodrigues et al. ( 1999 )
Tree crop plantation Coffee 11.0 8.7–12.5 Palm et al. ( 2004 )
Annatto ( Bixa orellana) 18.9 15.5–22.3 Elias et al. ( 2002 )
Cacao 19.0 19.0 Teixeira et al. ( 1994 )
Rubber 25.9 25.9 Teixeira et al. ( 1994 )49
Oil palm 41.4 41.4 Alegre et al. ( 2000 )
Peach palm, Oil palm; rubber 47.0 27–61 Palm et al. (
Rubber; 30 years 74.0 74.0 Alegre et al. ( 2000 )
Silvopastoral Pastures; native trees 86.7 33.3 86.4 Callo-Concha et al. ( 2002 )
Pastures + Brazil nut,
amazonicum ; 15 years
140.0 Gonçalves ( 2010 )
Grasslands Degraded pastures 3.5 4.2 93 Callo-Concha et al. ( 2002 )
5.7 Rodrigues et al. ( 1999 )
2.85 Palm et al. ( 2004 )
1.8–3.1 Alegre et al. ( 2000 )
Improved pastures 5.4 7.6 19.6 (40 cm) Fujisaka et al. ( 1998 )
6.0 Rodrigues et al. ( 1999 )
4.8 Alegre et al. ( 2000 )
3.1 Palm et al. ( 2004 )
Crops Cassava 3.4 3.4 Alegre et al. ( 2000 )
Maize 7.8 7.8
Rice 16.8 16.8
Plantain 24.4 16.2
21.1–35.9 Lapeyre ( 2003 )
a Bactris gasipaes, Cedrelinga cataeniformis, Coffea arabica, lnga edulis, Colubrina glandulosa, Elaeis guineensis
b Peach palm intercropped with native long-cycle timber trees (15-year time horizon)
c Cocoa intercropped with Inga edulis (6- and 8-year-old)
d Cocoa intercropped with Guazuma crinita (3-year-old)
e Cocoa agroforestry; 5-year-old
f Cocoa agroforestry; 12-year-old
g Coffee intercropped with native long-cycle timber species
h Coffee intercropped with rubber; 3-year-old
420 R. Porro et al.
If provided with suitable information, support, and incentives, this generation is
capable of making signi ﬁ cant changes in patterns of land use.
While agroforestry appears to be a promising alternative to mitigate environmental
degradation, as a component of integrated natural resource management and
biodiversity-conserving practices, it is not a panacea and must be part of a broader
set of policies striving for sustainability on various fronts. In this context, the
framework of international agreements that will de ﬁ ne the mechanisms for REDD++
should be seen as an additional opportunity to combine environmental bene ﬁ ts with
bene ﬁ ts to the livelihood of rural communities in the Amazon through the design,
promotion, and dissemination of agroforestry strategies.
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sensu stricto (the area of the Amazon and Tocantins river basins dominated by
the Amazon lowland rainforest biome, including also minor other forest and
non-forest vegetation types and their associated fauna) and (b) the Amazon
lowland rainforest types of the biogeographically de ﬁ ned Gurupi and Guiana
subregions. The Amazon region thus comprises approximately 6.7 million km
the greater part (65%) of which is in Brazil. Signi ﬁ cant areas, however, make
up the territories of adjacent countries: Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, and Ecuador.
Although not strictly part of the Amazon basin, neighboring areas of Venezuela,
Guiana, Suriname, and French Guiana are considered part of the Amazon biome
due to biological similarities of the ﬂ ora and fauna (Eva and Huber 2005 ) .
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