8. Agroforestry pathways: land tenure, shifting cultivation and sustainable agriculture.
Unasylva 154, 38, 1986, pp. 2-15
From a project standpoint there are two fundamental ways of arriving at agroforestry: by integrating trees into farming systems or by integrating farmers into forests.
Appropriately selected woody components may contribute to both the productivity and sustainability of farming systems on marginal land in several ways: by enhancing the production of organic matter; by maintaining soil fertility; by reducing erosion; by conserving water; and, by creating a more favourable microclimate for associated crops and livestock. These "service roles" are above and beyond the direct "production roles" trees can also play in supplying food, fodder, fuelwood, building materials and other raw materials for rural industries. In traditional land-use practices, agroforestry is also important in maximizing and diversifying the productivity of even highly fertile lands. Intensive agroforestry systems are most commonly found in areas with a long history of population pressure, indicating their general efficiency as a land-use system.
All tropical land-use systems exhibit varying degrees of "leakiness" with respect to the cycling of nutrients held in the soil-vegetation complex, although systems such as irrigated rice paddies, permanent tree crops and forests are inherently more sustainable than others. It is a fundamental contention of agroforestry that trees have good prospects for plugging many of the holes in tropical farming systems. The degree of "infilling" can vary from slight to virtually complete. Essentially, the decision as to how many and which kind of trees it is profitable to add to the existing pattern of land-use depends on what useful niches for trees can be identified. An agroforestry "niche" in this sense has three components: a functional role within the land-use system; a place within the landscape; and a time within the life cycle of a particular land-use system.
Although many of the recent research thrusts in agroforestry have been directed toward the integration of trees into farming systems, agroforestry also has a role to play in the preservation of forests and the improvement of forest management systems. By providing farmers with a means of producing fuelwood, timber, building poles and other forest products on farmland, agroforestry can significantly reduce the demand on forests and natural woodlands. By doing this in ways that enhance and sustain agricultural productivity, agroforestry can also alleviate some of the pressure for the conversion of forest land into farmland.
Moreover, the integration of farmers into forest management schemes through the use of "compromise" land-use systems based on agroforestry may be one of the few realistic ways of sustaining forestry production on agriculturally pressured forest land.
The purpose of this article is to provide some mental images of the scope and potential role of agroforestry to serve as a background to the discussion of tenure issues. The main assumption is that the interactions between agroforestry and tenure issues are basically of two types: first, tenure factors may pose constraints to the realization of the potential ecological and socio-economic benefits of agroforestry in many land-use systems; and second, agroforestry may offer ways of resolving some existing tenure problems. Tenure issues are far more varied and complex than are reflected here. However, attention is focussed on some of the major changes in tenure that arise in conjunction with the main development trends in tropical land-use. These changes are then viewed in ecological and evolutionary perspectives.
Agroforestry can perhaps provide a simple, equitable, all-round solution in developing countries to the related problems of biomass energy supply, decentralization of rural industry, and the participation of pastoralists in national development.
The purpose of this article has been to raise some questions and provide some images for a positive approach to tenure questions in agroforestry.
1169 92 - 7/83
Pacific, Papua New Guinea, highlands, coffee, casuarina, food, ICRAF
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