Updated: Mar 15
Agroforestry is “the intentional integration of trees and shrubs into crop and animal farming systems.” Rather than focusing on just forestry or just agriculture, it combines the two and focuses on the interaction between different plant species in an effort to produce sustainable results. Rather than seeing trees and shrubs as competitors to crops and animals, they are integrated as part of the agricultural system, leading to improved protection of natural resources for long term use. By integrating and managing methods that more closely reflect natural ecosystems, Agroforestry provides opportunities for productive and profitable agriculture while practicing environmental stewardship.
Agroforestry helps protect biodiversity. It does this by providing habitat that wouldn’t be available in a mono-crop system. Plants, animals and insects that have adapted over centuries to live in a forest ecosystem cannot live in a wheat field. Vast fields of a single crop can prove detrimental to many species – such as birds, pollinators, fish species and even herding animals, especially when it cuts them off from food and water sources. Agroforestry helps keep forest ecosystems intact alongside agriculture production while simultaneously providing erosion control, watershed filtration and carbon sequestration.
In Togo, forest degradation is a serious reality. It is primarily caused by agricultural practices and unsustainable land use approaches. Like many other Sub-Saharan African countries, Togolese households rely on wood fuel as a source of energy for cooking. 80% of the national household energy consumption in Togo is fuelwood and charcoal. Along with high wood consumption, land-use conversion and non-native timber plantations have had serious impacts on the health of the soil as well as the ecosystem processes in the country. The heavy deforestation, the impacts of climate change and continued population growth have resulted in food and energy crisis.
Why ICPSD Uses Agroforestry
The ICPSD Ecosystem Restoration Program employs agroforestry for the rehabilitation of native plant species. Specifically for:
Effective land use by mixing reforestation and agricultural production, which will limit the total land size for agriculture.
Production and plantation of nitrogen species for agroforestry to support sustainable crop production and agroforestry enterprises. Trees help control runoff and soil erosion, thereby reducing losses of water, soil material, organic matter and nutrients at levels satisfactory for soil fertility.
Maximization of financial gain for farmers who will benefits from the sale of forest products. Agroforestry can provide a more diverse farm economy and stimulate the whole rural economy, leading to more stable farms and communities.
Interested in supporting small community agroforestry efforts? Join The Forest, a community of monthly donors actively fighting climate change & deforestation through the empowerment and support of local communities.
 (FAO 2018, FCPF 2015, Kokou et al. 2008)