Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Classification of Agroforestry System

By Anton Antonio
November 11, 2015

The international entity that sets the criteria for agroforestry systems is the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).  The World Agroforestry Centre, also known as the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF) before 2002, is an international institute headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, and founded in 1978.  The Centre specializes in the sustainable management, protection and regulation of tropical rainforest and natural reserves.  It is one of 15 agricultural research centres which make up the global network known as CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research).  The Centre conducts research in agroforestry, in partnership with national agricultural research systems with a view to developing more sustainable and productive land use.  The focus of its research is countries/regions in the developing world, particularly in the tropics of Central and South America, Southeast Asia and parts of central Africa.  The Centre also organizes group training courses on agroforestry information management for the library and information personnel of collaborating institutions.  In 2002, the Centre acquired the World Agroforestry Centre brand name, although International Centre for Research in Agroforestry remains its legal name and it continues to use the acronym ICRAF.

Agroforestry systems can be classified based on the following criteria set by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF):

  1. STRUCTURAL BASIS refers to the composition, vertical stratification and temporal arrangement of the different components.  (a)  The farmer manages three components: woody perennials, agricultural crops, and animals.  We can classify agroforestry systems depending on which of these components are present in the farm.  (b)  Spatial arrangement refers to the way the plant components of the system are arranged on the surface of an agroforestry farm.  Based on this criterion, an agroforestry system can either have a regular or irregular distribution.  It is regular when forest trees are grown/planted in association with farm crops, or scattered regularly among them.  It is irregular when trees are placed randomly alongside or around crops with which these are associated.  (c)  Temporal arrangement refers to how trees and crops are alternately grown over time in a given space and could either be temporary or permanent.  It is temporary when the agricultural component does not last the length of the forest rotation, and permanent when maintained during one or more rotations.
  2. FUNCTIONAL BASIS refers to the major functions or roles of the system, mainly of the tree component.  The woody perennial forest component could either be productive, protective or both.
  3. SOCIO-ECONOMIC BASIS refers to scales of production, level of technology, inputs, and management as the basis for classification.  Therefore classes are commercial, intermediate or subsistence.

These are the parameters by which the World Agroforestry Centre conducts the classification of agroforestry systems.

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Villanueva, T. R., (2005). “Upland Ecosystem Management”. University of the Philippines Open University, Los BaƱos, Laguna, Philippines

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