The systems

Agroforestry Systems – Definitions

Agroforestry is defined as the deliberate combination of trees and crops and/or pasture at the same piece of land. The systems managed in this way are also named agroforestry systems. They are mixed systems with the main characteristic being the presence of trees. These trees serve many objectives such as productive, environmental and cultural. They provide many products such as timber, firewood, cork, fruits, acorns and foliage for animal feeding, pollen and nectar for bees, etc.; and services such as soil improvement, reduction of surface runoff, conservation of biodiversity and landscape improvement.

In Greece, there are three types of agroforestry systems: silvoarable, silvopastoral and agrosilvopastoral.

Agroforestry systems and tradition

Agroforestry systems constitute a traditional land use in Greece, especially in mountainous areas. However, they are not well known to the agencies responsible for land management and the scientific community has not paid the appropriate attention so far. The agricultural model applied after the Second World War had as a target the maximization of agricultural production. In order to achieve this goal, a large number of mixed systems were converted to monocultures. The trees were removed in order to facilitate the circulation of agricultural machines. On the other hand, the European Union’s subsidies applied till 1990′ contributed to tree cutting, because trees had to be excluded from the productive area of farms in order to become eligible for subsidization.

Recent developments

During the last few years, the conservation of traditional agroforestry systems is considered urgent for maintenance of good soil condition, high biodiversity, functional agricultural landscapes and for economically supporting the rural population who live in the mountainous areas. Also, the development of new economically viable agroforestry systems is considered necessary.

Scope of the Network

In order to coordinate all the above efforts, a ‘Network for conservation and development of agroforestry systems in Greece’ had to be established. This Network will help provide and exchange information on the management practices of traditional and new systems in order to become economically sustainable. It is also expected that it will promote the knowledge for the conservation of agricultural and forestry landscapes in Greece, which are in danger of being phased out by the irrational practices applied in the name of neo-technological development.

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