Synthesis of European agroforestry performance in terms of biodiversity, ecosystem services and profitability

During 2015 and 2016, researchers in the AGFORWARD project produced three papers that used systematic reviews and meta-analyses to improve our understanding of the extent of European agroforestry and the effects of agroforestry on biodiversity, ecosystem services and farm profitability. The pre-print versions of the papers are presented in an AGFORWARD report by Plieninger et al. (2016).

Plieninger T, Fagerholm N, Torralba M, Moreno G, Hartel T, Burgess PJ (2016). Synthesis of Existing European Agroforestry Performance. Deliverable 7.19 (7.1)for EU FP7 Research Project: AGFORWARD 613520. July 2016. 87 pp

The individual papers have been published in scientific journals. Fagerholm et al (2015) reports on a systematic review of 71 scientific papers which describe the effect of agroforestry in Europe on ecosystem services (i.e. the benefits provided to humans by agroforestry ecosystems). There are a large number of reports focused on quantifying the productivity and the regulation of environmental processes by wood pastures; there has been less focus on cultural and economic effects. It is suggested that future research could put more emphasis on socio-cultural effects, should include greater stakeholder participation, and make use of new tools such as spatially-explicit mapping.

Torralba et al (2016) describes a meta-analysis using 53 publications to examine the effects of agroforestry on ecosystem services and biodiversity, relative to conventional agriculture or forestry. The results indicate overall benefits from agroforestry in terms of erosion control, biodiversity, and soil fertility, whereas the effects on agricultural production were mixed.

In the last paper, Plieninger et al. (2015) provides a pan-European assessment of wood-pastures in terms of area, their ecological and social value, management issues, and concludes with an examination of the implications for policy.

  • Fagerholm N, Torralba M, Burgess PJ, Plieninger T (2015). A systematic map of ecosystem services assessments around European agroforestry. Ecological Indicators 62: 47-65
  • Torralba M, Fagerholm N, Burgess PJ, Moreno G, Plieninger T (2016). Do European agroforestry systems enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services? A meta-analysis. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 230: 150-161.
  • Plieninger T, Hartel T, Martín-López B, Beaufoy G, Bergmeier E, Kirby K, Montero MJ, Moreno G, Oteros-Rozas E, Van Uytvanck J (2015). Wood-pastures of Europe: Geographic coverage, social-ecological values, conservation management, and policy implications. Biological Conservation 190: 70-79.