This site was created by the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute with the help of the UK Agroforestry Forum to help farmers, land managers and their advisors assess the potential of sillvopastoral agroforestry as an alternative land use and to provide information on how to manage a silvopastoral agroforestry system.
The content of the site was agreed at a workshop attended by farmers, land managers, forestry consultants and advisors. Much of the content comes from research carried out by a number of institutions in the UK Agroforestry Forum.
Agroforestry is a dynamic, ecologically based, natural resources management system that, through the integration of trees on farms and in the agricultural landscape, diversifies and sustains production for increased social, economic and environmental benefits for land users at all levels.
There are two main types of agroforestry system appropriate to the
Silvopastoral systems in which trees are planted at wide spacing into grazed, permanent pastures. Silvopastoral agroforestry is also known as wood pasture, one of the Priority Habitats in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.
Silvoarable systems in which trees are planted in rows with an arable crop in the alleys between.
This site is only concerned with Silvopastoral Systems which can provide benefits for farmers..
Silvopastoral agroforestry has been shown in the UK to provide a number of benefits to farmers. With proper management, trees can be grown to produce timber with no reduction (or only a small reduction) in agricultural production from the same piece of land. This compares with more conventional farm forestry in which land must be allocated separately to the woodland enterprise resulting in a loss of agricultural area and agricultural production. The total return from the land is, therefore, potentially greater from agroforestry.
Agroforestry creates welfare benefits to grazing livestock through the provision of shelter and shade
Agroforestry generates new opportunities for wildlife. More species of insects and a greater abundance of insects are found in agroforestry. The same applies to birds with more species (both open-field and woodland bird species) and a greater abundance of birds in agroforestry than in conventional agriculture.
Agroforestry creates historical landscapes returning the appearance of the land to that of the traditional forests in which animals grazed.
These biodiversity and landscape benefits may contribute extra points in the scoring systems for the agri-environment schemes run by the various UK rural affairs departments. For example: