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Agroforestry: working trees for sequestering carbon on agricultural lands

Author:
Schoeneberger, M. M.
Source:
Agroforestry systems 2009 v.75 no.1 pp. 27-37
ISSN:
0167-4366
Subject:
environmental markets, agroforestry, carbon sequestration, greenhouse gases, pollution control, riparian buffers, windbreaks, soil management, agricultural land, afforestation, trees, Farm Bill, no-tillage, alley cropping, silvopastoral systems, carbon markets
Abstract:
Agroforestry is an appealing option for sequestering carbon on agricultural lands because it can sequester significant amounts of carbon while leaving the bulk of the land in agricultural production. Simultaneously, it can help landowners and society address many other issues facing these lands, such as economic diversification, biodiversity, and water quality. Nonetheless, agroforestry remains under-recognized as a greenhouse gas mitigation option for agriculture in the US. Reasons for this include the limited information-base and number of tools agroforestry can currently offer as compared to that produced from the decades-worth of investment in agriculture and forestry, and agroforestry's cross-cutting nature that puts it at the interface of agriculture and forestry where it is not strongly supported or promoted by either. Agroforestry research is beginning to establish the scientific foundation required for building carbon accounting and modeling tools, but more progress is needed before it is readily accepted within agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation programs and, further, incorporated into the broader scope of sustainable agricultural management. Agroforestry needs to become part of the agricultural tool box and not viewed as something separate from it. Government policies and programs driving research direction and investment are being formulated with or without data in order to meet pressing needs. Enhanced communication of agroforestry's carbon co-benefit, as well as the other benefits afforded by these plantings, will help elevate agroforestry awareness within these discussions. This will be especially crucial in deliberations on such broad sweeping natural resource programs as the US Farm Bill.
Agid:
744621