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Agroforestry and sustainable landscape management are key strategies for implementing the UN-Sustainable Development Goals across the world’s production landscapes. However, both strategies have so far been studied in isolation from each other. This editorial introduces a special feature dedicated to scrutinizing the role of agroforestry in sustainable landscape management strategies. The special feature comprises eleven studies that adopt inter- and transdisciplinary perspectives, integrating ecological, agricultural, and socio-economic sciences, and in some cases also practical knowledge. The studies relate to a range of different ecosystem goods and services, and to a diversity of societal sectors (e.g., agriculture, forestry, nature conservation, urban planning, landscape protection) and demands, including their mutual synergies and trade-offs. They inform land-use policy and practice by conceptualizing agroforestry as a set of “nature-based solutions” useful to help tackle multiple societal challenges. The studies encompass four themes: social-ecological drivers, processes, and impacts of changes of agroforestry landscapes; the sustainability outcomes of agroforestry at landscape scale; scaling up agroforestry through multi-stakeholder landscape strategies; and development of conceptual and operational tools for stakeholder analysis in agroforestry landscape transitions. Key steps to harness agroforestry for sustainable landscape management comprise: (i) moving towards an “agroforestry sustainability science”; (ii) understanding local land-use trajectories, histories, and traditions; (iii) upscaling agroforestry for landscape-scale benefits; (iv) promoting the multiple economic, environmental, social, and cultural values of agroforestry; (v) fostering inclusive forms of landscape governance; and (vi) supporting the innovation process of agroforestry system analysis and design.
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Sustainability Science
Agroforestry forsustainable landscape management
TobiasPlieninger1,2 · JoséMuñoz‑Rojas3· LouiseE.Buck4,5· SaraJ.Scherr5
Received: 1 June 2020 / Accepted: 5 July 2020
© The Author(s) 2020
Agroforestry and sustainable landscape management are key strategies for implementing the UN-Sustainable Development
Goals across the world’s production landscapes. However, both strategies have so far been studied in isolation from each
other. This editorial introduces a special feature dedicated to scrutinizing the role of agroforestry in sustainable landscape
management strategies. The special feature comprises eleven studies that adopt inter- and transdisciplinary perspectives,
integrating ecological, agricultural, and socio-economic sciences, and in some cases also practical knowledge. The studies
relate to a range of different ecosystem goods and services, and to a diversity of societal sectors (e.g., agriculture, forestry,
nature conservation, urban planning, landscape protection) and demands, including their mutual synergies and trade-offs.
They inform land-use policy and practice by conceptualizing agroforestry as a set of “nature-based solutions” useful to help
tackle multiple societal challenges. The studies encompass four themes: social-ecological drivers, processes, and impacts of
changes of agroforestry landscapes; the sustainability outcomes of agroforestry at landscape scale; scaling up agroforestry
through multi-stakeholder landscape strategies; and development of conceptual and operational tools for stakeholder analysis
in agroforestry landscape transitions. Key steps to harness agroforestry for sustainable landscape management comprise: (i)
moving towards an “agroforestry sustainability science”; (ii) understanding local land-use trajectories, histories, and tradi-
tions; (iii) upscaling agroforestry for landscape-scale benefits; (iv) promoting the multiple economic, environmental, social,
and cultural values of agroforestry; (v) fostering inclusive forms of landscape governance; and (vi) supporting the innovation
process of agroforestry system analysis and design.
Keywords Integrated landscape management· Landscape approach· Multi-stakeholder strategies· Sustainable
development goals· Transformative change· Ecosystem services
Across much of the world, agricultural systems, ecosystem
health, landscape integrity, and rural resource-based liveli-
hoods are in crisis, with major planetary boundaries having
already been transgressed (Campbell etal. 2017; Díaz etal.
2019; Gordon etal. 2017). Over the next few decades, agri-
culture and food systems likely will be forced to go through
an extraordinary transition to meet food production needs
more sustainably. This is especially relevant in a global con-
text under which climate change, growing populations, and
regional inequalities and economic transformations all pose
complex and largely intractable challenges for rural land-
scapes (Gordon etal. 2017; Willett etal. 2019). Navigating
these challenges more sustainably implies identifying new
ways to manage our natural resource base to secure the full
range of ecosystem goods and services potentially provided
Agroforestry forSustainable Landscape Management
Handled by Osamu Saito, Institute for Global Environmental
Strategies, Japan.
* Tobias Plieninger
1 Faculty ofOrganic Agricultural Sciences, University
ofKassel, Kassel, Germany
2 Department ofAgricultural Economics andRural
Development, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Platz der
Göttinger Sieben 5, 37073Göttingen, Germany
3 MED-Mediterranean Institute forAgriculture,
Food andtheEnvironment, Universidade de Évora,
Colégio dos Regentes Agricolas, Herdade de Mitra,
Valverde-Évora7006-554, Portugal
4 Department ofNatural Resources, Cornell University, Ithaca,
NY14853, USA
5 EcoAgriculture Partners, 3057 Nutley Street, Suite 193,
Fairfax, VA22031, USA
Sustainability Science
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by landscapes, capitalizing on synergies and reducing trade-
offs (Howe etal. 2014). Biodiversity and ecosystem con-
servation strategies are also in urgent need of transforma-
tion, embedding them more deliberately into increasingly
production-oriented landscapes and considering human
well-being in a more inclusive sense than in the past (Mace
2014; Palomo etal. 2014).
The 17 UN-Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and
their associated targets and indicators offer strategic guid-
ance for such transformation of global land and resource
use toward sustainability (Kanter etal. 2016). The SDGs
emphasize the harmonization of environmental, economic,
cultural, and societal policy agendas, building on three basic
principles: indivisibility—all goals need to be implemented;
inclusion—all people shall benefit; and acceleration—the
need for actions that render multiple development dividends
(Mann etal. 2018). Public policy actions across adminis-
trative scales from the international to the municipal for
promoting the SDGs depend on financial commitments,
political and societal will, and appropriate legal frameworks.
However, ecological knowledge and stewardship fostered
by local communities, businesses, land-owners, managers
and users, and civil society are at the core of implementing
the SDGs in production landscapes (Bieling and Plieninger
2017). Thus, only close communication between land-use
actors, broader civil society, the scientific community, and
the public and policy sectors can lead to desired SDGs out-
comes in terms of better planning, use and management of
biodiversity and ecosystem services, alleviation of poverty,
security of livelihoods, and more efficient and better coordi-
nated governance systems (Bridgewater etal. 2015).
Sustainable landscape management is a key strategy to
achieve the SDGs in agricultural and forestry production
landscapes globally (Bürgi etal. 2017; Thaxton etal. 2015).
Sustainable landscape management is also termed “inte-
grated landscape management (an umbrella term encom-
passing a wide range of diverse communities of practice;
Scherr etal. 2013) or “landscape approach” (reflecting the
10 principles defined by Sayer etal. (2013)). Specifically,
sustainable landscape management conceives conservation
and restoration of biodiversity, the production of food, the
protection of critical ecosystem services, and rural liveli-
hoods as joint objectives, rather than dealing with them in
isolation or in direct confrontation (Tanentzap etal. 2015).
Landscape approaches to achieve sustainability are all multi-
stakeholder and multi-objective, and they explicitly address
spatial interactions (Angelstam etal. 2019).
Sustainable landscape management is being implemented
via landscape-level governance platforms and partnerships
throughout the world (Angelstam etal. 2019), providing the
mechanisms by which the SDGs can become enacted (Reed
etal. 2016). Hundreds of bottom-up initiatives of sustain-
able landscape management have been screened continent by
continent in a series of publications (Carmenta etal. 2020;
García-Martín etal. 2016; Milder etal. 2014; Zanzanaini
etal. 2017).
SDG implementation through sustainable landscape man-
agement builds on multifunctional land-use systems that
contribute to the mutual alignment of frequently confronted
production and conservation aims (O’Farrell and Anderson
2010). Agroforestry systems are defined as landscape units
comprising land uses that combine aspects of agriculture
and forestry, including the agricultural use of trees (Van
Noordwijk 2019). They represent a paradigmatic example
of agroecological land-use systems. They hold promise to
play a major role in the transformation of agriculture towards
achieving the SDGs (Waldron etal. 2017), especially regard-
ing the mitigation and adaptation to climate change (Mos-
quera-Losada etal. 2018). Forty-three percent of the world’s
agricultural lands have a tree cover of at least 10% (Zomer
etal. 2016). Although not all of these land-use types and
landscapes include explicit agroforestry systems, this esti-
mate indicates that the potential of using agroforestry for
sustainable landscape management is vast.
Scientific studies of agroforestry systems are numerous
and long-established and have connected land-use science,
policy, and practice, demonstrating the societal benefits of
this multifunctional land-use (Van Noordwijk 2019). The
scientific literature on sustainable landscape management is
strongly on the rise as well (Arts etal. 2017). However, most
of the agroforestry literature is typically place-specific and
often focusing on the agricultural sciences. In contrast, the
literature on sustainable landscape management is broader in
both scope and geographic focus. With this special feature,
we fill the niche of linking the agroforestry and sustainable
landscape management communities. By doing this, we
emphasize agroforestry as a key asset to sustainable land-
scape management worldwide, while making the concept
of sustainable landscape management more tangible for
agroforestry-related land-use practice and policy.
This special feature is dedicated to scrutinizing the role of
agroforestry in sustainable landscape management strategies
and also, vice versa, how the latter might help improve the
application, scaling, and sustainability of agroforestry sys-
tems. In particular, studies included in this feature examine:
Social-ecological drivers, processes, and impacts of the
expansion, decline, and qualitative changes of agrofor-
estry landscapes, including urbanization processes and
effects of state interventions,
The performance of agroforestry in contributing to mul-
tiple sustainability objectives at landscape scale,
Upscaling of agroforestry through multi-stakeholder
landscape strategies, and
Conceptual and operational tools for analyzing agrofor-
estry adoption and impacts at landscape scale.
Sustainability Science
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Sustainable landscape management
The concept of sustainable landscape management implies
managing agriculture and natural resources simultaneously
for food and fiber production, support of biodiversity and
ecosystem services, and fostering overall contributions to
human well-being. A landscape approach enables syner-
gies and trade-offs among ecological, economic, cultural,
and social objectives to be examined at a larger-than-farm
scale to reveal how interactions among different land uses
are complementary and/or competing. Management strat-
egies within and across the four aforementioned objec-
tives, thus, can be negotiated to produce an optimal bal-
ance within any given landscape context. Adopting such an
approach to management implies working across sectors
to ensure that knowledge and information as well as land
uses, markets, and policy strategies are adequately inte-
grated. This “integrated” approach to realizing sustainable
landscapes is, thus, a fundamental precept of sustainable
landscape management (Denier etal. 2015; Scherr etal.
The idea of integrated management for sustainable
landscapes (“integrated landscape management”, ILM)
arose to unite a proliferation of terms used to express vari-
ous applications of conservation and sustainable develop-
ment. It emerged along the decade following the 1992 UN
Conference on Environment and Development and was
inspired by the Brundtland Commission report, which had
coined the term “sustainable development” (Brundtland
1987). During this period, the biodiversity and forest con-
servation communities recognized landscape approaches
in strategies to address limitations of integrated conserva-
tion and development projects that sought to improve local
livelihoods in the context of protected area management
(Sayer and Campbell 2004). At the same time, the notion
of “forests in landscapes” arose to help advance ecosystem
approaches to sustainability (Sayer and Maginnis 2007).
The Pilot Assessment of Global Ecosystems: Agroeco-
systems in 2000 [a precursor to the Millennium Ecosys-
tem Assessment (2005)] used spatial analyses to graphi-
cally illuminate overlapping uses of land for agricultural
production, biodiversity conservation, and multiple other
ecosystem services at a global scale (Wood etal. 2000).
This inspired collaborative research by the CGIAR’s
Future Harvest program and IUCN to document and pro-
pose strategies for managing agriculture at landscape
scale to better harmonize the rapid changes in land use
with biodiversity conservation goals, initially using the
term “ecoagriculture” before shifting to ILM (McNeely
and Scherr 2003; Scherr and McNeely 2008). The authors
used various applications of agroforestry to help illustrate
the concept. Operationalizing these constructs rested on
the concept and practical strategy of adaptive collabora-
tive management (Buck etal. 2001), which embraced the
employment of science together with participatory deci-
sion-making through a range of collaborative processes in
an adaptive management framework.
Sayer etal.’s (2013) landmark publication on principles
of a landscape approach appeared at the same time that
Scherr etal. (2013) distilled vital elements of integrated
landscape management and documented more than 80 com-
munities of practice aligned with such approach. The two
intersecting constructs helped pave the way for a burgeon-
ing community of practice, as exemplified by the Global
Landscapes Forum knowledge platform on integrated land
use that fosters a holistic approach to creating sustainable
landscapes (www.globa lland scape sforu Simultane-
ously, research publications quickly expanded in this arena.
For example, Harvey etal. (2014) and Minang etal. (2014)
explored climate smart landscapes; Reed etal. (2016), Sayer
etal. (2017), and Opdam (2018) tackled core questions that
arise in implementing the approach; Buck etal. (2017) and
Kusters etal. (2018) addressed landscape partnerships;
Caron etal. (2017) integrated sustainable landscapes with
territorial development. These and others signal a vital and
maturing field of practice and inquiry, while lastly, Angel-
stam etal. (2019) explored how to bring together landscape
concepts and approaches within the ecosystems services
umbrella to devise sustainable landscape governance.
The basic idea behind agroforestry is that the combination
of trees and crops in spatial or temporal arrangements results
in greater structural and functional complexity compared
to monoculture production (Jose 2009). This complexity
leads to gains in efficiency of capturing and utilizing nutri-
ents, light and water, improves food and nutritional security,
results in valuable cultural landscapes, and mitigates envi-
ronmental degradation—thus offering a sustainable alterna-
tive to input-intensive “single commodity” production (Nair
etal. 2017). While in the Global South poverty alleviation,
increasing food security, and halting deforestation have been
among the major reasons for promoting agroforestry, in the
Global North issues of fostering rural quality of life and
cultural values, improving water quality, controlling soil ero-
sion, and conserving biological diversity have been impor-
tant drivers (Nair 2007). A number of global and regional-
level reviews provided evidence that agroforestry offers a
wide range of environmental, social, cultural, and economic
benefits at landscape scale (e.g., Rosenstock etal. 2019;
Torralba etal. 2016). Under such a logic, agroforestry is a
key strategy for the “perennialization” of agriculture aimed
at establishing permanent vegetative cover for ecosystem
Sustainability Science
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protection. This may include the incorporation of relatively
small amounts of perennial vegetation in strategic locations
within agricultural landscapes dominated by annual crops
(Asbjornsen etal. 2014), or conversion of much larger areas
of land, still in strategically located parts of the landscape.
Historically, multiple forms of agroforestry have devel-
oped over the centuries across many regions, cultures, and
ecosystems of the world. For example, planned agroforestry
has been dated back to 2500 BC in Europe (Eichhorn etal.
2006). Well-known examples of agroforestry systems across
the world include the Chattisgarh system of multipurpose
trees integrated into rice cultivation in India (Viswanath
etal. 2000), the Parkland system of West Africa (Fifanou
etal. 2011), and the traditional orchard meadows called
Streuobst in Germany (Plieninger etal. 2015b). Many of
these traditional and location-specific agroforestry systems
have gone into oblivion with agricultural modernization,
although some—termed “Cinderella systems” (Nair etal.
2017)—have recently been rediscovered as potential models
for sustainable land-use and territorial development. While
some have fairly high production, this does not tend to be the
norm. At times, this is due to the emphasis in modern analy-
sis on the output of specific commercially relevant com-
modities from the system rather than the combined output
of multiple products and services. Moreover, little research
and technology development activity has been devoted to
these systems. Traditional agroforestry systems, most nota-
bly silvopastoral systems (Plieninger etal. 2015a), are still
found extensively in many parts of the world, but are often
in decline due either to agricultural intensification or land
abandonment (Godinho etal. 2016; Nerlich etal. 2013).
Novel, improved, and more standardized agroforestry
systems have been promoted since the 1980s, first through
development cooperation in the tropics and subtropics, cata-
lyzed by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), and more
recently also as an alternative land-use approach in Europe
and North America (Nair 2007). Compared to traditional
agroforestry, improved agroforestry systems are often less
diverse and tend to provide a narrower range of ecosystem
services, though this depends on specific systems, places,
and management options. On the other hand, they are highly
productive—often even more productive than segregated
forms of agricultural and forestry production (Nair 2007).
For example, land-use efficiency of improved agroforestry
systems (in terms of agricultural and forestry crop yields) in
Europe has been estimated to be up to 40% higher than that
of conventional farming systems (Graves etal. 2010). Often
incorporating elements of indigenous and local knowledge,
these improved systems have been intensively investigated
by modern science. They extend out across vast landscapes
in the Global South, thanks to local land-use traditions and
incorporation of tree products on farms for income diver-
sification. They tend to expand more incrementally in the
Global North, typically due to a combination of economic,
political, technical, and socio-cultural barriers (García de
Jalón etal. 2018).
Agroforestry as a land-use and landscape concept is in
constant evolution (Van Noordwijk 2019). First, agrofor-
estry was used as a collective name for specific practices
that involved farmers and trees at the plot level, often with a
focus on tree soil crop interactions. In the 1990s the idea of
using agroforestry for increased landscape multifunctionality
emerged, putting landscapes and livelihoods (i.e., the land-
scape level) into the foreground. Most recently, attention to
agroforestry has been moving to the policy level, with many
efforts dedicated to removing the disaggregation between
agricultural, forestry, and other sectorial policies, including
especially environmental ones, and advocating for coherent
policies across all land uses. Often, these efforts are framed
as contributions to achieving the Sustainable Development
Goals (Van Noordwijk 2019).
Characteristics ofthis special feature
This special feature assembles eleven studies dedicated to
exploring the mutual interactions between agroforestry and
sustainable landscape management, focusing on the potential
synergies and related advantages to be gained (see overview
in Table1). It finds its origin in two sessions on agroforestry
landscapes that took place at the Fourth World Congress on
Agroforestry, held from 20 to 22 May 2019 in Montpellier,
France (https ://agrof orest ry201 9.cirad .fr). This congress
was an authoritative global agroforestry event that brought
together a large number of committed agroforestry research-
ers, policy makers, farmers, donors, government officials,
students, the private sector, and civil society members from
the Global South and North. The mission of this congress
was to strengthen the links between science, society, and
policy around agroforestry.
In this special feature, 63 authors take up this challenge,
presenting eleven original studies on agroforestry and land-
scape approaches. Studies were carried out in Canada (Laro-
che etal. 2020), Ecuador (Buck etal. 2020), France (Guill-
erme etal. 2020; Therville etal. 2020), Nicaragua (Andreotti
etal. 2020), Romania (Hartel etal. 2020), and Thailand
(Dumrongrojwatthana etal. 2020) (Fig.1). Interestingly, a
number of articles describe comparative research that has
been performed across two regional landscape corridors
(Buck etal. 2020); between two protected areas (Therville
etal. 2020); between the four tropical countries of Honduras,
Indonesia, Peru, and Uganda (Zinngrebe etal. 2020); across
the Mediterranean Basin (Flinzberger etal. 2020; Wolpert
etal. 2020); and across ten agroforestry landscapes and land-
use systems in the European Union (Rolo etal. 2020). Stud-
ies were carried out at local (n = 3), regional (n = 6), national
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(n = 1), and supranational scales (n = 1). Of ten, agroforestry
landscapes do not show sharp spatial boundaries, but form
fuzzy land-use and landscape units. Study areas were vari-
ously delimited by administrative (n = 3), biophysical (n = 5),
and cultural-historic (n = 3) borders.
The types of agroforestry systems under investigations
are diverse. Some studies focus on very specific and local-
ized agroforestry systems, e.g. on combined rice and sugar
palm systems in Southeast Asia (Dumrongrojwatthana
etal. 2020); on coffee-based systems in Central America
(Andreotti etal. 2020); or on olive-, chestnut-, and cork
oak-based tree cropping systems in the Mediterranean Basin
(Wolpert etal. 2020). Others include a broader range of tra-
ditional and novel, silvopastoral and silvoarable systems
(e.g., Buck etal. 2020; Therville etal. 2020). The contri-
butions typically triangulate various qualitative and quan-
titative methods and partly combine approaches from the
social, ecological, agronomical, and geographical sciences.
Many rely on participatory methods, such as serious games
(Andreotti etal. 2020), Delphi assessments (Flinzberger
etal. 2020), or stakeholder deliberations (Rolo etal. 2020).
Although highly diverse in questions, concepts, methodo-
logical approaches, scales, and insights, all papers in the spe-
cial feature share a focus on agroforestry, being showcased
as a microcosm for studying wider issues about the sustain-
ability of human–nature interactions through the prism of
rural landscapes and land-use synergies and trade-offs. In
particular, they share the following common features:
All studies assume an interdisciplinary perspective, inte-
grating ecological, agricultural, geographical, and socio-
economic sciences perspectives,
Most of them are transdisciplinary in nature, considering
multiple forms of scientific and practical knowledge on
They relate to a range of different ecosystem goods and
services, and to a diverse set of societal sectors (e.g.,
agriculture, forestry, nature conservation, urban plan-
Table 1 List of contributions focusing on diverse topics, world regions, and agroforestry systems
Study # Topic Agroforestry system Region/countries Reference
1 Historic drivers and trends of
change of agroforestry land-
Chestnut-, cork, and olive-based
agroforestry systems
Nine regions of the Mediterra-
nean Basin
Wolpert etal. (2020)
2 Functional relationships between
traditional agroforestry land-
scapes and invasive species
Mountainsilvopastoralism French Pyrenees (South France) Guillerme etal. (2020)
3 Stakeholder views on resilience
improvements of European
agroforestry systems
Wide range of agroforestry
systemsof high natural and
cultural value
Eleven European countries Rolo etal. (2020)
4 Driving forces and impacts of
land-use change in marginal
tropical agroforestry systems
Rice/sugar palm agroforestry
Thailand Dumrongrojwatthana etal.
5 Visual assessments for social
coherence of agroforestry
Intercropping systems Québec (Canada) Laroche etal. (2020)
6 Social-ecological linkages in
traditional agroforestry systems
Wood-pastures Central Romania Hartel etal. (2020)
7 Labeling as a tool for sustainabil-
ity in agroforestry landscapes
Multiple agroforestry systems
and elements
Mediterranean Basin Flinzberger etal. (2020)
8 Participatory games and
backcasting for transitioning
towards sustainable agrofor-
estry landscape management
Smallholder coffee agroforestry
Nicaragua Andreotti etal. (2020)
9 Integrated landscape manage-
ment for upscaling agroforestry
Multifunctional landscapes Ecuador Buck etal. (2020)
10 Operationalising a landscape
approach through agroforestry
linking conservation and farm-
ing actors
Trees on tropical farms across
diverse contexts and farming
Honduras, Peru, Indonesia,
Zinngrebe etal. (2020)
11 Policy frameworks and regimes
in protected areas rich inagro-
Mediterranean plain and moun-
tain agroforestry systems, iso-
lated trees in fields, hedgerows,
grazed orchards, silvopastures
South France Therville etal. (2020)
Sustainability Science
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ning, landscape protection) and actively consider syner-
gies and trade-offs between different societal demands,
thus covering different aspects of sustainable landscape
management (Table2),
The studies inform land-use policy and practice by con-
ceptualizing agroforestry as a set of “nature-based solu-
tions” to help tackle multiple societal challenges, thus
linking to the UN-Sustainable Development Goals.
Social‑ecological drivers, processes,
andimpacts ofexpansion, decline,
andqualitative changes ofagroforestry
Agroforestry landscapes are overall characterized by
complex dynamics, involving mutually interacting gov-
ernance institutions, actors, and networks that act across
spatial–temporal scales (Pastur etal. 2012). Acknowledg-
ing the complexity of agroforestry landscapes requires
that they be examined through a social-ecological lens
(Plieninger and Huntsinger 2018). This includes identi-
fying interactions among multiple ecosystems functions
and services, and related drivers, processes, and impacts
(Lescourret etal. 2015). This is especially pertinent at a
time of rapid land-use change in production landscapes
due to population, market, socio-cultural, climate, and
ecological changes.
In response to these challenges, Wolpert etal. (2020)
explore land-use changes across different Mediterranean tree
crops and contrasting landscapes over the past 200years.
The authors identified a general trend in the last 70years
from multifunctional tree-crop landscapes towards intensi-
fication or abandonment, with the southern fringe of the
Mediterranean trending towards intensification, and the
northern landscapes towards abandonment. Socio-cultural
drivers are confirmed as key elements for change, as is the
high potential of tree-crops to contribute to future resilience
of landscapes.
Equally in the Mediterranean context, but at a local scale,
Guillerme etal. (2020) study the relationship between agro-
forestry and invasive species, an important and understudied
issue for sustainability. The authors investigate the evolu-
tion of a traditional agroforestry Pyrenean landscape where
invasive species are abundant, using high-resolution spatial
technologies. The results, which show that invasive species
have spread in parallel to the abandonment of farmlands, are
relevant for land-use planning. They raise questions about
the sustainability and effects of current management prac-
tices on landscape-scale biodiversity.
Fig. 1 Geographic distribution of the studies included in this special feature. Blue areas indicate studies that compared multiple study areas. Pur-
ple areas indicate single-area studies
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Rolo etal. (2020) look at how traditional agroforestry
systems are declining across Europe, largely driven by their
poor economic performance. This loss of agroforestry is
ongoing although such land-use systems deliver a wide
range of ecosystem services, and thus can be considered
as high-value-farming systems. To tackle this paradox, par-
ticipatory research was conducted with ten European stake-
holder groups to discuss pathways to improve the sustain-
ability of “High Nature and Cultural Value agroforestry”.
The authors conclude that existing solutions match poorly
with the key challenges identified. Further, to become more
effective, solutions require in-depth understanding of the
diversity of contexts of agroforestry systems, along with
novel approaches to bottom-up and collective actions.
Rainfed lowland rice and sugar palm hedges in SE Asia,
which play a crucial role in the resilience of tropical agro-
ecosystems, are studied in Dumrongrojwatthana etal.
(2020). Powerful drivers are transforming these iconic cul-
tural landscape elements. Combining remote sensing and
interviews, the authors quantify and qualify land-use changes
behind the diversification of farming and off-farm activities.
They highlight recent sugar palm expansion and extreme
climatic events, resulting in threats to these emblematic, and
yet increasingly vulnerable cultural agroecosystems.
Sustainability outcomes ofagroforestry
atlandscape scale
Landscape approaches aim to reconcile targets for biodiver-
sity, food production, livelihoods, and human well-being,
along with related cultural and social values (Arts etal.
2017). In such pursuit, the landscape is considered an opti-
mal spatial unit for governance and delivery of multi-func-
tionality (Angelstam etal. 2019), with integrated landscape
management potentially driving change towards greater
levels of sustainability. Thus, agroforestry systems, when
considered from a landscape perspective, can become key
assets for improving sustainability.
Laroche etal. (2020) examine how agroforestry inter-
cropping systems can provide multiple ecosystem services
in regions where agricultural systems are becoming more
intensive. Social perceptions are evaluated using online
questionnaires with photomontages for two regions of Que-
bec (Canada) to examine contributions to landscape sus-
tainability. This study reveals that most agroforestry inter-
cropping systems are as socially appreciated as ordinary
agricultural landscapes. In view of this, the authors highlight
that any design recommendations must be context-specific to
fully respond to the social expectations that these landscapes
frequently pose.
Focusing on scattered trees in Central Romania, Har-
tel etal. (2020) analyze their key roles in shaping local
Table 2 Principles of the landscape approach (Sayer etal. 2013) addressed by each of the studies in the special feature
Study # Continual learning/
adaptive management
concern entry
Multiple scales Multi-
parent change logic
Clarification of
friendly monitoring
Resilience Strengthened
1 x x x x x x
2 x x x x x
3 x x x x x x
4 x x x x x
5 x x x x x x
6 x x x x x x
7 x x x x x x
8 x x x x x x x x x
9 x x x x x x x x x
10 x x x x x x x
11 x x x x x
Sustainability Science
1 3
communities, both economically and socio-culturally. They
argue that the values that people attach to these elements
of agroforestry are key for landscape sustainability. Using
network analysis, the study brings light to the value network
around the scattered mature and large old trees in traditional
wood pastures and how the “removal” of values affects the
wood-pastures, when they are considered as social-ecolog-
ical systems. In this way, this study proves how adopting
a value-network approach is useful for improving under-
standing of the values that local people attribute to agro-
forestry landscapes, and thus also ultimately for improving
Flinzberger etal. (2020) look at the expanding empiri-
cal evidence that agroforestry systems have the potential to
support a diversity of social and ecological values in agri-
cultural landscapes across the Mediterranean Basin. They
examine the use of market labels that both communicate to
the consumer that the product is sourced through sustainable
management along the supply chain and at the same time
secure the financial sustainability of farms. A Delphi survey
finds that 12 out of 17 Sustainable Development Goals are
relevant for agroforestry systems, and that related market-
ing instruments including eco-labels, social labels, and Geo-
graphic Indications are especially well-positioned to help
achieve these goals through agroforestry. An agroforestry
label defined in the form of a Geographic Indication fits
especially well for this purpose.
Scaling upagroforestry
throughmulti‑stakeholder landscape
Sustainable landscape management requires long-term
institutional arrangements among multiple stakeholders to
negotiate, advocate for, and jointly implement responses to
evolving challenges and opportunities for natural resource
management (Sayer etal. 2013). Such coalitions at land-
scape and supra-farm governance levels can potentially play
a significant role in scaling up agroforestry.
Andreotti etal. (2020) explore the re-design of a complex
coffee-based agroforestry system in central Nicaragua to
transition towards greater sustainability. The findings show
how a facilitated multi-stakeholder process can enable co-
creation of transition pathways, providing a learning plat-
form for sharing knowledge and practices and discussing
opportunities and constraints. Such discussions are essential
to build a shared stakeholder understanding of the current
situation and future options, and a foundation for developing
a shared vision and taking collective action for integrated
landscape management.
Buck etal. (2020) document the institutional innova-
tions associated with integrated landscape management in
the Amazon and Chocó-Andean BioCorridor of Ecuador.
These platforms led to scaling agroforestry systems after ini-
tially stagnant field-focused promotion efforts. The authors
demonstrate how five key elements of ILM—shared goals,
cross-sectoral collaboration, community engagement, inte-
grated spatial planning of agroforestry and related land-use
systems, and market and policy support—work synergisti-
cally to advance the knowledge-intensive and adaptive col-
laborative management processes needed to scale up agro-
forestry adoption and to develop a coherent scaling strategy.
Zinngrebe etal. (2020) argue that understanding of the
roles of different actors in trees-on-farm governance should
inform strategies of multi-stakeholder landscape platforms
and of national programs. Through social network analy-
sis in Honduras, Peru, Indonesia, and Uganda, the authors
find that implementation of agroforestry-specific policy
instruments requires complementary structures for regula-
tion, finance, and information. Different functions of actor
groups require coordination through facilitated learning pro-
cesses. “Bridging” actors, such as farmer associations and
local governments, can play an important role in facilitating
such processes. The authors recommend integrating support
for agroforestry across all relevant governance processes to
produce effective outcomes.
Therville etal. (2020) investigate the “policyscape” of
agroforestry, meaning the articulation between multiple poli-
cies that impact a diversity of agroforestry systems, in the
Ventoux Biosphere Reserve and Verdon Regional Nature
Park, in France. The results of in-depth interviews with
practitioners and institutional representatives reveal 121
policy instruments. Only a minority of these were specific
to agroforestry, while numerous sectoral instruments indi-
rectly impacted agroforestry systems at a landscape scale.
They conclude that it is essential to consider interactions—
of places, people and networks—not only between different
forms of agroforestry, but also with other agroecological
practices and territorial issues.
Tools forstakeholder analysis
inagroforestry landscape transitions
Analyzing and fostering agroforestry for sustainable land-
scapes requires gaining better understanding of stake-
holder perceptions, and advancing multi-stakeholder pro-
cesses. Four articles in this set evaluated innovative tools
and methods for such analyses: Net-Map, Delphi survey, a
visual appreciation tool, and combined participatory fore-
and backcasting. All of the studies generated both useful
research findings, and important inputs for advancing inte-
grated landscape management in real-world practice.
Zinngrebe etal. (2020) demonstrate how the Net-Map
tool proved powerful in building and understanding critical
Sustainability Science
1 3
aspects of collaboration among actors in selected socio-
ecologically diverse landscapes. The study generates novel
insights into structural characteristics of effective govern-
ance, including the benefits of building on established net-
works of local land users, and shed light on how flows of
finance, regulation and information affect potential for agro-
forestry support.
Flinzberger etal. (2020) apply an expert Delphi survey
to evaluate terms to convey sustainability in agroforestry
systems through of labeling agroforestry products. Delphi
surveys have been frequently performed in socio-economic
studies. However, this study demonstrates that this method
may prove as a powerful tool for application also in the envi-
ronmental sciences, by virtue of its potential to elicit and
synthesize expert knowledge systematically.
Laroche etal. (2020) design a tool for evaluating the
influence of agroforestry system design features on visual
appreciation by rural residents. The tool includes an online
survey and a suite of photomontages that depicted conven-
tional agricultural landscapes and agroforestry intercropping
systems. It is calibrated to examine the social perceptions of
agroforestry intercropping systems within specific landscape
contexts to optimize their designs and contribution to land-
scape sustainability. The authors find the coupling of visual
assessments and qualitative comments useful in understand-
ing the “social coherence” of intercropping across different
landscape contexts.
Andreotti etal. (2020) combine participatory forecast-
ing and backcasting to explore agroforestry management
strategies for envisioning more sustainable landscapes. The
methods allow examination of farmer decision-making pro-
cesses and farming strategies, as well as future visions for
sustainable landscape management by groups of technicians,
researchers and municipal officials. The approach shows
potential to facilitate discussions on landscape planning
among the various types of stakeholders engaged, leading to
a stepwise pathway for reaching the collectively envisioned
future landscapes.
In this editorial, we explore the relations between agrofor-
estry and sustainable landscape management, and the poten-
tial of agroforestry landscapes to contribute to achieving
multiple Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. The
agroforestry systems investigated here serve as microcosms
that allow for the study of broader sustainability issues and
challenges, in particular regarding questions of managing
complexity and multiple scales. The contributions to this
special feature reflect on various options of how sustainable
landscape management can inform and advance the scal-
ing up of agroforestry. Likewise, agroforestry as a land-use
production system can become a key component of strate-
gies for implementing sustainable landscape management.
Based on the studies in the special feature, we distill the
following messages for a coming together of agroforestry
and sustainable landscape perspectives (Fig.2).
Agroforestry has been considered a niche discipline for
too long. Rather, agroforestry should become a distinc-
tive research area under the umbrella of sustainability
science, thus moving toward an “agroforestry sustain-
ability science”. Integrating agroforestry’s central role in
sustainable landscape management may help overcome
the lack of adoption and maintenance that is a challenge
to many agroforestry practices and systems.
Natural resource management is determined by path
dependencies that often have developed over decades, if
not centuries and millennia. Agroforestry for sustainable
landscape management, therefore, needs understanding
of local land-use trajectories, histories, and traditions.
This includes gaining a better understanding of farmers’
attitudes toward agroforestry over time, as farmers are the
key actors driving historic and current land-use change.
Agroforestry strategies should not be confined to the
farm and plot scales. Meaningful contributions to the
Sustainable Development Goals depend on upscaling
agroforestry to generate benefits at landscape scale. A
diversity of agroforestry practices, implemented in the
right locations of a landscape, counting with the right
management, can not only benefit the farmers and land
managers practicing them, but also other actors and their
networks in the landscape.
To sustain the long-term practice of agroforestry, consid-
ering and promoting its multiple economic, environmen-
tal, social, and cultural values as well as the synergies
among them is essential. This means actively supporting
market and business development that render agrofor-
estry viable, so that these land-use systems and related
landscapes can retain key values as they evolve dynami-
cally over time.
Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals
requires fostering and experimenting with inclusive
forms of landscape governance, mainstreaming policy
fields also beyond public agricultural and forestry poli-
cies. This includes fostering strong multi-stakeholder
coalitions within landscape units, and more efficient
coordination, cooperation, and shared and mutual learn-
ing of policy and other actors in support of agroforestry
A variety of unique and creative tools should be embraced
for supporting the innovation process of agroforestry
system analysis and design in the context of sustainable
landscape pursuits. These should take into account the
multi-dimensional properties of agroforestry in sustain-
Sustainability Science
1 3
able landscapes, including their multi-functional land-use
characteristics and/or the collaboration requirements in
integrated management and governance.
Acknowledgements Open Access funding provided by Projekt DEAL.
TP’s contribution has been supported by the Deutsche Forschungsge-
meinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)—project number
426675955. Support for JMR’s work has been received from the Euro-
pean Commission through the LIAISON (H2020-grant agreement No
773418), TERRANOVA (Marie Curie-H2020 grant agreement No
813904) and SUSTAINOLIVE (PRIMA 2018-2022) research projects.
Inputs from LB and SJS were supported by a grant to EcoAgriculture
Partners from the Hitz Family Foundation.
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... Often they combine elements of animal husbandry with grassland or arable farming and forestry (Mosquera-Losada et al. 2012). All of them provide a high diversity of ecosystem services due to large habitat variation over space and time while also supporting high levels of farmland biodiversity (Mosquera-Losada et al. 2012;Plieninger et al. 2020;Torralba et al. 2016). Besides biodiversity conservation, agroforestry systems provide benefits in carbon sequestration, soil enrichment, improving air and water quality (Jose 2009;Plieninger et al. 2020) but also form rural cultural heritage, societal and aesthetic values (Flinzberger et al. 2020). ...
... All of them provide a high diversity of ecosystem services due to large habitat variation over space and time while also supporting high levels of farmland biodiversity (Mosquera-Losada et al. 2012;Plieninger et al. 2020;Torralba et al. 2016). Besides biodiversity conservation, agroforestry systems provide benefits in carbon sequestration, soil enrichment, improving air and water quality (Jose 2009;Plieninger et al. 2020) but also form rural cultural heritage, societal and aesthetic values (Flinzberger et al. 2020). ...
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Europe has a large variety of historic cultural agroforestry systems which provide numerous ecosystem services. Traditional agroforestry landscapes are characterized by a high level of biodiversity, but they lack an economic basis due to considerable time and financial effort required for cultivation, maintenance, and harvesting. Orchard meadows (OM) are a typical example for agroforestry systems. They combine large fruit trees with undercropping or livestock raising. This study investigates consumer knowledge and preferences for OM products and the possibilities of improved communication to increase consumer demand. Focus groups were conducted with German consumers. The results demonstrate that consumers have a very positive perception of OM juice in terms of taste, local production, health, and environmental benefits. In order to increase the demand for OM juice, communication with consumers needs to be improved by highlighting these positive attributes.
... For instance, tropical agroforestry systems can provide valuable ecosystem services beyond crop production, including carbon storage and pollination (Tscharntke et al. 2011;De Beenhouwer et al. 2013). Agroforests can also provide a source of income for households and contribute to the multifunctionality of mosaic landscapes (Plieninger et al. 2020). For fallow lands, forming part of shifting cultivation systems, several studies have reported their importance in terms of the provision of diverse products to rural households in many regions, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa (e.g. ...
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Tropical agricultural landscapes often consist of a mosaic of different land uses, yet little is known about the spectrum of ecosystem service bundles and materials they provide to rural households. We interviewed 320 households on the different benefits received from prevalent land-use types in northeastern Madagascar (old-growth forests, forest fragments, vanilla agroforests, woody fallows, herbaceous fallows, and rice paddies) in terms of ecosystem services and plant uses. Old-growth forests and forest fragments were reported as important for regulating services (e.g. water regulation), whilst fallow lands and vanilla agroforests as important for provisioning services (food, medicine, fodder). Households reported the usage of 285 plant species (56% non-endemics) and collected plants from woody fallows for varying purposes, whilst plants from forest fragments, predominantly endemics, were used for construction and weaving. Multiple land-use types are thus complementary for providing ecosystem services, with fallow lands being particularly important. Hence, balancing societal needs and conservation goals should be based on diversified and comprehensive land management.
... The contributions of agroforestry in sustaining livelihoods may accelerate the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) that depend on financial support, political commitments, and appropriate legal measures (Plieninger et al., 2020). Some studies show that agroforestry development is primarily affected by political commitments and appropriate legal frameworks. ...
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The livelihoods of farmers in developing countries are often associated with the existence of forests, especially agroforestry. The dynamics of agroforestry and livelihoods could not be separated from the political context and developments in Indonesia. In this paper, the dynamics of Sustainable Livelihood Assets (SLA) owned by smallholder farmers are explored using three political sequences, namely the New Order Era, the Reform Era, and the Post-Reform Era. The result showed that the development of agroforestry in Gunungkidul had been primarily influenced by political initiatives that have a connection with vegetation coverage, livelihood assets, and species composition in the systems. The livelihoods possessed by farmers have been relatively sustainable during the past five decades; only a slight change could be observed in the ownership of capital. The political initiatives have been an enabling environment for agroforestry development that support sustainable livelihoods. The study recommends that the socio-political culture needs to consider the traditional agroforestry system in order to sustain the livelihoods of the people.
... Recent environmental studies and policies have recommended maintaining traditional rural landscape features such as intercropping, agroforestry, and cross-slope barriers (e.g., hedgerows, stone walls, earth banks, ridges, and furrows) for their potential benefits to ecosystems [6,7]. Over the long term, agroforestry systems (i.e., the practice of combining trees with agriculture or livestock) are among the most resilient types of rural land use [8]. ...
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Historic agricultural practices have played a dominant role in shaping landscapes, creating a heritage which must be understood and conserved from the perspective of sustainable development. Agroforestry (i.e., the practice of combining trees with agriculture or livestock) has existed since ancient times in European countries, and it has been recognised as one of the most resilient and multifunctional cultural landscapes, providing a wide range of economic, sociocultural, and environmental benefits. This research explores aspects of the history, physical characteristics, decline, and current state of conservation of historic agroforestry systems on the Northern Apennines in Italy, using an interdisciplinary approach combining archival sources, landscape archaeology, dendrochronology, and GIS analysis. Furthermore, through computer-based modelling, this research aims to evaluate how the abandonment of this historic rural land-use strategy impacted slope geomorphic processes over the long term. The importance of environmental values attached to traditional rural landscapes has received much attention even beyond the heritage sector, justifying the definition of transdisciplinary approaches necessary to ensure the holistic management of landscapes. Through the integration of the Unit Stream Power-Based Erosion Deposition (USPED) equation with landscape archaeological data, the paper shows how restoring the historic agroforestry landscape could significantly mitigate soil mass movements in the area. Thus, the interdisciplinary workflow proposed in this study enables a deep understanding of both the historical evolution of agroforestry systems and its resulting effects for cumulative soil erosion and deposition in the face of climate change.
... Adapted from , (Di Sacco, et al., 2021), (Plieninger, Muñoz-Rojas, Buck, & Scherr, 2020) (Aleksandrova, Lamers, Martius, & Tischbein, 2014), (Lamers, Bobojonov, Khamzina, & Franz, 2008), (Toderich, et al., 2013b), (Kumar, Khamzina, Knöfel, Lamers, & Tischbein, 2021). ...
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NbS have gained substantial attention in the academic literature recently as a potential approach for simultaneously tackling environmental issues and addressing societal challenges. Drylands, which are among the world’s most vulnerable areas to the impacts of climate change and cover a little less than the half of the global terrestrial surface, were the focus of this study. We conducted a systematic literature review to explore the potential opportunities for the application of NbS in rural drylands across the globe. We go on to specifically consider the possibility of applying selected NbS approaches in the Aral Sea region of Uzbekistan, as a case study of a dryland ecosystem illustrating major environmental and social challenges. We highlight which NbS show the most promise in the Aral Sea region and conclude with a discussion of existing gaps in the literature on NbS in drylands, and opportunities for further research.
... This study aims to assess the CSP and different soil chemical properties to aid more information for understanding the soil carbon dynamics, and potential to sequester C of most common monocropped tree plantations and homestead agroforestry in Kerala. At a time when there is a focus on increasing carbon sequestration to achieve UN SDG 13 and 15 (Jahan et al. 2022;Plieninger et al. 2020), this study plays an important role in providing a short comparative assessment of tree-based carbon sequestration potential and SOC in plantation and traditional agroforestry system of the homestead. ...
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Designing sustainable food and agricultural systems is a pressing need at a time when we already are at the low end of achieving SDG 13 (Climate Action) of reducing carbon emissions. In such a scenario, this study has the potential to provide an insightful framework for policymakers. The major objective of this study is to estimate the carbon sequestration of tree crops, and soil analysis in homestead agroforestry systems (AFS), monocropped rubber plantations, and monocropped coconut plantations in the Alappuzha and Kollam districts of Kerala. The soil carbon parameters analyzed were soil organic carbon (SOC) and labile carbon. Other parameters, such as pH and electrical conductivity of soil, were also measured. The soil of rubber plantations had the least pH (4.8) and EC (79 µS/cm). We found the tree carbon sequestration of rubber trees in the plantations to be the highest (13.8 t C ha−1 year −1) followed by homestead AFS (2.68 t C ha−1 yr−1) and coconut tree plantation (2.08 ± 0.53 t C ha−1 year−1). The tree carbon sequestration potential was significantly (p = 0.003) influenced by the treatments. In soil, the SOC content was highest in the homestead AFS (2.48%). The labile carbon was also found to be higher in the homestead AFS (0.06%) but was least in rubber plantation (0.04%). These results indicate that even though the tree carbon sequestration of homestead AFS is lesser compared to that of large tree plantations such as rubber. The soil carbon pools and other physical and chemical properties of soil promote the valuable contribution that homestead can play in the sustainability of the environment and ensuring food security.
... On some occasions, landscape approaches are articulated around specific landscape products, which are products deeply linked to the local identity and landscape character, typically part of a "quality turn" in food consumption (García-Martín et al. 2020). On other occasions, the recognition of the natural and cultural values associated with landscapes enabled its support by all actors in the landscape, either by generating an added value in specific goods (e.g., certification mechanisms) or services (e.g., tourism or new forms of agri-environmental use) (Woestenburg 2018;Flinzberger et al. 2020;Plieninger et al. 2020). ...
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Landscape approaches are gaining momentum in both scientific and policy agendas. However, landscape approaches comprise a multitude of concepts, approaches and principles, which are in part similar, in some parts different or even contradictory. In this paper, we used a Q-method questionnaire to explore how landscape approaches are understood and employed in 45 case studies of socio-ecological production landscapes and seascapes derived from the International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative (IPSI), as well as the motivations for employing them. Our analysis revealed that all landscape approaches pursued very similar goals, namely to ensure that local communities as landscape stewards have the capacity to preserve context-specific values in the face of socio-economic and environmental changes. The tools for reaching such goals are built upon people and nature feedback dynamics that crystalize in rich biodiversity and local ecological knowledge. However, our analysis also showed that the means to reach those goals differed depending on many contextual factors, such as the dominant ecosystems and socio-economic activities in the landscape, the constellation of actors or the most relevant drivers of change affecting the social–ecological system. In particular, we identified four distinct lenses in which landscapes approaches are applied in practice to landscape sustainability: (1) for the preservation of natural values, (2) for the preservation of socio-cultural values, (3) for the promotion of social justice and participatory governance, and (4) for securing food security and local livelihoods. Our results showed an association between the choice of a lens and the value types motivating the use of a landscape approach. Relational values were associated with a focus on landscape conservation and safeguard of social–ecological values. Our study highlights the relevant and beneficial role of landscape approaches as a boundary concept and emphasizes the need for transdisciplinary and participatory methods within landscape research and practice to navigate the context-specific options for implementation of landscape approaches.
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У збірник наукових праць включені тексти доповідей з широкого спектру теоретичних і прикладних питань географічної освіти, науки і практики, які виголошено на міжнародній науково-практичній конференції, присвяченій 140-річчю географії у Львівському університеті. Серед авторів збірника науковці України, Великої Британії, Франції, Німеччини, Швеції, Польщі, Словаччини і Литви. Географічна освіта і наука: виклики і поступ: матеріали міжнародної науково-практичної конференції, присвяченої 140-річчю географії у Львівському університеті (м. Львів, 18–20 травня 2023 р.) / відповід. редактори: В. Біланюк, Є. Іванов. У 3-ох томах. Львів: Простір-М, 2023. Том 2. 280 с.
Agroforestry, as a subject of scientific investigation, assumes wider recognition in view of the need for sustainable intensification of agriculture to provide food to the ever-growing population, combating climate change and conserving biodiversity. The main objective of this book is to synthesize the relevant information from Africa and Asia for the stability, sustainability and diversification of agricultural production. In this book, various aspects of the emerging research areas of agroforestry in Asia and Africa regions have been discussed by eminent researchers and experts with a focus on climate change adaptation and mitigation, restoration of degraded landscapes, biodiversity and ecosystem services, modern agroforestry approaches and policy perspectives. This introductory chapter provides the background and sets the scene for the remaining chapters. With a total of 25 chapters, this compilation is structured into four sections, namely, progress towards sustainable intensification and climate change, landscape restoration and combating desertification, biodiversity and ecosystem services, and analytical approaches and policy perspective.KeywordsIntensification of agricultureLandscape restorationCombating desertificationEcosystem servicesAnalytic approachPolicy initiatives
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The term agroforestry covers practices that are promoted to maintain or even enhance biodiversity. However, the relationship between agroforestry and invasive species is rarely addressed, even though the spread of such species is an important issue, not only ecologically but also economically and socially. Over the past few decades, humans have greatly accelerated the process of biological invasions, to such an extent that they are now recognized as the second cause of rapid decline in biodiversity. In France (as in other parts in Europe), abandonment of agricultural land in remote areas is a major problem having socio-economic, landscape and environmental implications. The objective of the research presented here was to find a method for studying the relationship between traditional agroforestry systems and invasive species, despite a lack of available data. We investigated the evolution of a traditional agroforestry system in the Pyrenean foothills, where invasive species are abundant, by implementing two complementary methods: (1) interviews highlighting the local stakeholders’ perception of landscape evolution, invasive species and the challenges they represent for the local traditional agroforestry landscapes, and (2) detailed mapping of an area occupied by invasive plants, by means of very high-resolution spatial technologies using UAV’s and aerial photography. The results show that invasive species have spread in relation with the abandonment of agricultural land, which has also led to “landscape closure” by the encroachment of natural afforestation. They also underline the difficulty of assessing the spread of invasive species. This situation is of major importance in terms of land-use planning, as the various stakeholders have different perceptions of the problem, and it raises questions about the sustainability of practices and territories.
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The expansion and intensification of agriculture as well as the associated land clearing are threatening both biodiversity and human wellbeing in tropical areas. Implementing agroforestry systems through a landscape approach has a strong potential for integrating nature conservation objectives into agricultural systems. A key challenge for implementing the landscape approach is that political processes and conservation initiatives operate in 'silos', being largely disconnected from farmers and local key agents responsible for tree governance. In this study we brought together different stakeholders in facilitated, structured focus discussions to analyse the role of actor groups in tree governance. We used social network analysis to quantitatively and qualitatively analyse agroforestry governance networks and actor interactions related to information exchange, finance flows, and regulation. The analyses were conducted at national, sub-national and local levels in four countries: Honduras, Peru, Indonesia, and Uganda. Using trees on farms as a boundary object enabled all participants to bridge common interests and illuminate some of the constraints and opportunities of local governance systems while overcoming institutional and ideological barriers. The quantitative results of the social network analysis identify a strong density of actor linkages. Despite this density, results indicate incoherent and fragmented actor networks undermining the support for agroforestry on all levels. Nevertheless, existing processes related to finance, information, and regulation can be better aligned to ensure an effective implementation and mainstreaming of agroforestry for biodiversity conservation. Building social capital among key actors on both national and local levels can reveal a strong potential for adaptive learning processes mainstreaming agroforestry as essential component of "good farming" and integrating incentive systems for a coherent and effective agroforestry gov-ernance. We conclude that redirecting both public and private funding towards continuous seed-funding for the facilitation of these integrated learning processes can transform landscape management and at the same time reduce transaction costs.
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Agroforestry intercropping systems (AIS), in which crops grow between widely spaced tree rows, can address several land-use challenges in regions of agricultural intensification and decline. Since their contribution to landscape sustainability depends on their coherence with the sociocultural dimension of landscapes, understanding the potential impacts of AIS on rural residents becomes necessary to inform planning processes and optimize their designs. We scrutinized the appreciation of landscapes featuring AIS for rural residents of two contrasted agricultural regions of Québec (Canada), evaluated the influence of some individual characteristics and AIS design features on these appreciations, and elicited the reasons justifying landscape appreciations. Data was collected using an online questionnaire. We compared landscape scenarios featuring AIS designs to landscapes featuring common land-uses using a 10-point Likert scale. Open-ended questions elicited the reasons underlying respondents’ landscape appreciation and closed questions captured their sociodemographic profile and their attitude toward the environment. A total of 161 rural residents filled the questionnaire. The multivariate analysis showed no significant effect of any of the sociodemographic characteristics tested. The statistical analyses revealed that AIS are similarly appreciated to rural landscapes featuring forests, fallows, or cultivated fields. AIS appreciation varied with diversity and row spacing, but in intertwined, regionally contrasted ways. The qualitative analyses showed that the linear arrangement of trees, associated with artificiality, was unappreciated by respondents. Our results highlight that AIS may be socially coherent in diversified rural landscapes. Design recommendations should maximize diversity while attenuating the row effect.
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Agroforestry is considered a foundation for multi-functional, socio-ecological landscape transformation. Landscapes where agroforestry is practiced contribute to the full range of goods and services from agriculture to natural resources needed for social and ecological sustainability. Yet the barriers to large-scale agroforestry adoption are substantial, rooted in the misalignment between risk-takers (small-scale farmers) and beneficiaries (society at large). Integrated landscape management (ILM) offers a strategy for scaling up agroforestry by mobilizing collaborative efforts among multi-sector stakeholders to address these barriers. This study explores the application of ILM strategies in agroforestry initiatives in two landscapes in Ecuador: the Chocó-Andean Bio-Corridor led by Ecuadorian society and the Agenda for Transforming Production in the Amazon project of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock. The ILM framework provides the conceptual basis for analyzing processes that advance the scaling-up of agroforestry, limits to progress, prospective levers of change to unlock constraints, and partnership strategies to accelerate agroforestry development. The cases demonstrate that ILM strategies are valuable in advancing the knowledge-intensive and adaptive collaborative management processes needed to scale agroforestry adoption.
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The combined and interacting effects of land-use change, resource extraction and climate change threaten the sustainability of millions of mainly smallholder farms in tropical agroforested landscapes. In many of these landscapes, coordinated action among stakeholders at landscape level would help to address challenges such as pests and diseases, price crises and climate change. However, methods to facilitate the co-production of sustainable landscape management in such complex multi-stakeholder systems are currently largely lacking. In this paper, we present a novel approach to explore pathways for the sustainability transition of agroforestry systems. By combining participatory forecasting and backcasting approaches, based on serious games and future vision development, we explore relevant agroforestry management strategies for reaching sustainable future coffee-based agroforestry landscapes. We focused our research on the challenges faced in the main coffee-producing area in Nicaragua. Here, we organized five participatory game sessions to explore farmer decision-making processes, farming strategies and to develop new networks and stimulate social learning among farmers. In the associated backcasting workshop, the most influential game session participants joined technicians, researchers and municipality officials to collectively envision sustainable future landscape management. In all game sessions, farmers developed diversified coffee-based agroforested landscapes characterised by increased density and diversity of shade trees, for the purpose of income diversification as well as forest conservation. During the backcasting workshop, the participants identified policy instruments and community-based solutions for the transition to sustainable landscapes. Our participatory approach facilitated discussion on landscape planning among farmers and other stakeholders and allowed the outline of a pathway towards the collective envisioned future landscape. The combination of participatory forecasting and backcasting proved to be a helpful tool to support multi-stakeholder processes towards sustainable landscape management in this and other complex landscapes.
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Traditional forms of agroforestry are often recognized as exemplar systems that successfully integrate food production, biodiversity conservation and high cultural values. However many traditional agroforestry systems in Europe are in decline or are threatened and the perspectives of local stakeholders on the production, management, socio-economic, and environmental dimensions of such systems are not fully understood. To fill this gap, we present results of participatory research performed with ten stakeholder groups (SG) across Europe to search for solutions to improve the economic and ecological sustainability of High Nature and Cultural Value agroforestry systems (HNCV agroforestry). Stakeholders included both users and beneficiaries of the HNCV agroforestry. First, SGs held open discussions (227 participants) to identify major challenges for the long-term sustainability of HNCV agroforestry. Challenges were classified into production, management, socio-economic and the environment categories. Second, they responded to structured questionnaires (120 respondents) that explored the positive and negative perceptions of 45 possible attributes of HNCV agroforestry. Third, innovative solutions were identified by individual and group discussions to address the four categories of challenge. Challenges were mostly identified for the management and socio-economic categories, but several challenges concerning production and environment were also pinpointed. Besides, solutions matched poorly with the challenges identified, and, while challenges were at some extent common across countries, solutions to address them were more case-specific. The successful implementation of these solutions requires an in-depth understanding of the diversity of socio-cultural and natural contexts of the HNCV agroforestry systems and building bottom-up proposals and collective actions based on this understanding. The sustainability of HNCV agroforestry would be benefited by providing farmers and managers with a financial advantage from the high nature and cultural value of these systems.
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The multi-functional agroforestry system associating rainfed lowland rice and sugar palm (RLR-SP) hedges has been sustaining emblematic cultural landscapes in the Indianized countries of Southeast Asia for centuries. Often established in areas facing very constrained soil–water conditions, it played a crucial role in the agro-ecological, social and economic resilience of these agrarian systems. Recent changes in communication infrastructure, commercialization, urbanization, state interventions and private initiatives have driven the transformations of these iconic cultural landscapes, but analyses of their socio-ecological impacts on household livelihoods and landscapes features are lacking. In this study, we quantified and analysed the transformations of a coastal RLR-SP cultural landscape in Southeast Thailand. We used remote sensing data to characterize and quantify land-use change during 1983–2015, and interviews with diverse stakeholders to understand the impacts of the driving factors of change on livelihood systems. After the mid-1980s, market integration facilitated by the construction of bridges and all-weather roads led to the diversification of farming and off-farm activities, increasing the mobility of farm labourers sizing wage-earning opportunities in neighbouring urban centres. In the 1990s, the RLR-SP system faced the introduction of an irrigation canal, shrimp farming, tree plantations, and the partial conversion of deep-water rice areas into mixed gardens. More recently, the demand for sugar palm fruits by the caning industry has revived an interest in sugar palm groves. A policy to raise the farm incomes associated with palm oil companies supported the conversion of paddy fields into small oil palm plantations, which is the most important recent land-use change and future threat to the survival of the RLR-SP system. Like in other Southeast Asian coastal areas, the increased frequency of extreme climatic events is another major threat faced by this emblematic but increasingly vulnerable cultural agroecosystem. The profitable and land/water resource efficient association of the RLR-SP system with commercial vegetable production on diversified smallholdings is a promising way towards a more sustainable landscape management that could be supported by improving on-farm water storage.
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Agroforestry systems (AFS) are presented as systems likely to meet a variety of interests from diverse stakeholders embodied in sectoral policies such as forestry or environment policies. However, they are in a process of being institutionalized in Europe through specific policy instruments mostly within agricultural policies. In this context, we investigated the agroforestry policyscape, meaning the social and spatial articulation between multiple policies impacting agroforestry along a Mediterranean landscape gradient from agricultural intensification to land abandonment. We focused on the necessary conditions to promote socio-political synergies between practices, actors and instruments to tackle agroforestry, from preexisting to emerging systems and issues in these landscapes. We worked in two Mediterranean protected areas, the Ventoux Biosphere Reserve and the Verdon Regional Nature Park, and conducted in-depth interviews with 50 practitioners and sectoral representatives from diverse policies directly affecting AFS. We identified five categories of AFS, some of them being traditional declining practices while other ‘modern’ forms are currently emerging with the ongoing agro-ecological transition. We highlighted that while stakeholders and policies from multiple social groups are interested in some AFS such as silvopastures, others AFS such as silvoarable systems are confined to a single social and political field, the agricultural one, or even ignored by policies such as grazed orchards. Regarding this agroforestry policyscape, we discuss opportunities for agroforestry development with issues of policies coordination, lack of instruments, and need for synergies with environmental or land-use planning policies.
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Scattered woody vegetation generates multiple socioeconomic and environmental benefits to the rural communities. Disregarding values associated with woody vegetation on pastures can decouple individuals from traditional management practices, resulting in the loss of biodiversity-rich farming landscapes. Here we employ semi-structured interviews and network analysis to understand the value networks attributed to scattered mature and large old trees in traditional wood-pastures of Central Romania. In our approach, values connect people to trees as well as other people when all share the same appreciation for trees. Farmers assigned 18 values to the scattered mature and large old trees on wood-pastures. Mature trees were appreciated mainly for their tangible benefits. The removal of a single value (i.e., shade value for livestock) decoupled a large proportion of farmers from the mature tree value network. Conversely, large old trees were appreciated for their socio-cultural values (e.g., identity, history). For these trees, the removal of individual socio-cultural values decoupled a relatively small number of people from the network. We suggest that the adoption of a value network approach to understanding multifunctional farming landscapes such as wood-pastures is important because it allows for (1) the understanding of the connections between people and landscape features (e.g., trees) as well as between people (i.e., through sharing the same values for trees), (2) the inclusion of values in the social-ecological monitoring projects and the understanding of the role of various local initiatives and land ownership forms in shaping the value network, and (3) facilitating the understanding of the circumstances of how formal regulatory policies may influence the multifunctional farming landscape as a social-ecological system.