Environmental and socio-economic framework conditions of agroforestry in different regions in Europe

One objective of the AGFORWARD project is to understand the context and extent of agroforestry in Europe. This report, led by Mercedes Rois, Natasa Lovrić and Marko Lovrić of the European Forest Institute, examines the socio-economic and environmental context for the implementation of agroforestry in Europe. It uses two approaches: i) qualitative interviews with 183 farmers and ii) the development of a detailed multi-criteria model based on the responses of 18 participants working with European agroforestry.

The report starts with brief reviews of the agricultural sector in Europe (Section 2) and the current published knowledge on the socio-economic and environmental drivers for agroforestry (Section 3).

Section 4 describes the qualitative interviews carried out with 98 farmers practising agroforestry and 85 farmers not practising agroforestry across eight European countries. The approach used grounded theory to establish ‘Why is agroforestry accepted or not? The face-to-face or telephone interviewees were centred on eight questions, which are reported and examined in turn:

  1. What do farmers understand by agroforestry?

  2. Why do farmers start implementing agroforestry?

  3. Have trees been removed from farms and why?

  4. What are the agroforestry practices implemented?

  5. What are the main problems that farmers face when implementing agroforestry?

  6. What are the positive perceptions from farmers of agroforestry systems?

  7. What are the negative perceptions from farmers of agroforestry systems?

  8. Do farmers see a need for the labelling of agroforestry products?


The report provides examples of quotes addressing each of these questions and describes the full range of responses to each of these questions.

Section 5 describes the development of an Analytic Network Process (ANP) model based on the responses of 18 participants working with European agroforestry. The participants’ understanding of the interactions between the benefits, costs, opportunities and risk of five agroforestry options were examined for a typical farm enterprise scenario for five different European biogeographical regions. The five agroforestry options were implementing: i) agroforestry of high natural cultural value, ii) intercropping or grazing between high value trees, iii) integrating trees with crops, iv) integrating trees with livestock, or v) not implementing agroforestry. The five biogeographical regions were: Atlantic, Boreal, Continental, Mediterranean and Pannonian. The final model relies on 40 criteria where the relative effects of selected inputs on selected outputs were quantified.

Across the five regions and five management options, in terms of environmental benefits, the strongest relationships occurred in terms of lower inputs of pesticides and/or fertiliser. In terms of economic benefits, the strongest relationships were associated with lower labour costs, production of higher quality crops and timber, or lower business risk due to diversification. For social benefits, the strongest relationship was with increased knowledge and information on agroforestry. In terms of costs, the strongest relationships were with increased labour costs or increased competition between crops, trees, and animals. In terms of opportunities, the strongest relationships were with the availability of subsidies or higher employment. Lastly in terms of risks, the strongest relationships were with low market opportunities or lack of subsidies. Across the five biogeographical regions, the option of not implementing agroforestry received its lowest ranking in the Mediterranean region, which is also the region where the implementation of agroforestry is currently highest. The section finally describes how understanding these relationships may be useful in determining appropriate policy interventions.

Rois Díaz, M., Lovrić, N., Lovrić, M., den Herder, M., Graves, A.R., Pisanelli, A., Mosquera Losada, M.R., Ferreiro Rodríguez, N., García de Jalón, S., Vityi, A., Varga, A., Burgess, P.J. (2017). Environmental and socio-economic framework conditions of agroforestry in different regions in Europe. Deliverable Report 1.3 for EU FP7 Research Project: AGFORWARD 613520. (10 April 2017). 100 pp.