Policy challenges for agroforestry implementation in Europe uri icon


  • Agroforestry (AF) is a sustainable land use practice and system that increases the ecosystem services delivery from agricultural lands compared with treeless systems. Agroforestry can be considered a practice when linked to plot scale (silvoarable, silvopasture, homegarden, woody linear landscape strips, and forest farming), and a system when associated with the global farm scale. The enhancement of the ecosystem services is associated with the use and promotion of the biodiversity caused by the presence of trees that optimizes the use of the resources if adequate species are mixed. Agroforestry can be implemented at temporal and spatial scales. At the temporal scale, the use of woody perennials to increase soil fertility is a traditional technique that improves soil health and reduces the need of using herbicides (e.g., the legume Ulex sown for 10 years in between crop cultivation). Five agroforestry practices can be implemented at the plot level: silvopasture, silvoarable/alley cropping, homegardens/kitchengardens, woody linear landscape strips, and forest farming. A farm including these practices is considered an agroforestry system working at the landscape level when several farms are mixed. In spite of the acknowledgment that AF has at the European level for being included as part of Pillars I and II, the spread of AF is limited across Europe. Four challenges, linked with technical, economic, educational, and policy development, have been identified by the AFINET thematic network that, if addressed, may foster policy adoption across the EU. This article proposes 15 different policy recommendations to overcome them and the need of developing an AF strategy for the EU.
  • We acknowledge funding through Grant 101086563 from the European Commission (Project AF4EU, HEUROPE). This study was supported by National Funds by the FCT—Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology, under the project UIDB/04033/2020. NF-D was funded by the Pilot Program of the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC) for the hiring of distinguished research staff—call 2021, funded under the collaboration agreement between USC and Banco Santander, for the years 2021–2024. JJS-F was supported by the USC and the Spanish Ministry of Universities through the “Convocatoria de Recualificación del Sistema Universitario Español” on its modality “Margarita Salas”; Ministry of Universities - Recovery Transformation and Resilience Plan (funded by the European Union through the NextGenerationEU).

publication date

  • March 2023