Using agroforestry in North Africa to inform development of agroforestry practices in Europe

Climate change means that some European agroforestry systems, such as the Spanish dehesa, are expected to face climates currently experienced in parts of North Africa. As part of the AGFORWARD project, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) sought to identify and describe successful agroforestry practices in areas bordering Europe that could be useful in encouraging agroforestry within Europe. The report, authored by Tim Pagella and colleagues at ICRAF was completed in December 2014 and comprised four key areas of work which are briefly outlined below.

Review of agroforestry practices : The report highlights some of the agroforestry practices in the Mediterranean areas of North Africa and Western Asia, as described in 18 peer-reviewed documents. The key systems comprise olive, argan, and cork oak agroforestry systems (Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria)and alley cropping with saltbush (Morocco).

Climate analogues : A climate analogue approach was used to look at potential climates for four existing dehesa sites in Spain. The predicted climate in 2050 and 2080 for some of the dehesa sites was predicted to resemble the current climate in some areas in Morocco.

Case study in northern Morocco : A participatory investigation was undertaken by Laura Kmoch on options to increase tree cover and tree diversification along an altitudinal transect in the Zerhoun region of Morocco in collaboration with ICARDA. The mean annual rainfall is about 580 mm and 90% of the rainfall occurs between November and April. The common agroforestry practices include: boundary plantings with olives on cropland and the use of prickly pear, agave or cape gum around homesteads and fields. There were also examples of intercropping vegetables, legumes and forages in fruit and olive orchards and livestock grazing under mature olive and carob trees. The farmers could be grouped into five “strata”. Although each group expressed an interest to increase and diversify the tree cover, the mechanisms to support increased use of trees varied between the groups.

Modelling agroforestry parkland systems : The fourth activity describes the use of field data and the WaNuLCAS (Water, Nutrient and Light Capture in Agroforestry Systems) model to understand how trees and annual crops adapt to climate variability across three sites in the Sahel where the mean annual rainfall is between 550 and 1070 mm. The model was used to examine how the sensitivity of the tree canopy to water stress can affect subsequent crop yields. The findings are relevant to coping with increasing climate variability in Europe with the take home message that agroforestry trees may be net contributors or competitors with crops for water depending on rainfall distribution in any particular season.

The conclusions to the report focus on the contribution agroforestry can make to improve the resilience of farming systems, the need to account for fine-scale variation, and the importance of institutional capacity.

Pagella, T., Kmoch, L., Leudeling, E., Mulia, R., Sinclair, F. (2014). Agroforestry from Mediterranean Partner Countries: Report on possible technology transfer from Mediterranean Partner countries to European countries. (Eds. M den Herder and P.J. Burgess). Deliverable for EU FP7 Research Project: AGFORWARD 613520. 35 pp.

For further information on this work, please contact Fergus Sinclair : F.Sinclair@CGIAR.ORG

Download the report

WP1_D1_1_AGFORWARD.pdf (2.1 MiB)