managed well, agroforestry can avert ‘disservices’ from agriculture, such as greenhouse gas emissions, loss of wildlife habitat, nutrient run-off and soil erosion by providing ecosystem services similar to forests (Power 2010). Though the benefits from agroforestry differ between management practices and climatic regions they include water regulation, regulation of soil fertility and nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, soil erosion control and increased pollination, pest control and biodiversity conservation (MA 2005; Jose 2009; FAO 2013d). In India, agroforestry systems have been used to rehabilitate salt- affected land by planting salt-tolerant trees (Nair 2007). Pimentel and Kidd (1992 in Pimentel et al. 1997) found that planting leguminous trees between maize crops in Central America reduced soil erosion from 30 tonnes/ha/yr to 1 tonne/ha/yr on slopes of 2–5 per cent. In the Shandong province in China, farmers who introduced agroforestry in 1977 saw a 10 per cent increase in agricultural productivity by 1990 (Yin and Hyde 2000). In spite of its long traditions and documented benefits, investment inagroforestryhasbeen relatively low. There isaneed for decision- makers aswell as agricultural organizations to realize the potential of agroforestry and its role in food production, environmental protection and poverty reduction (FAO 2013d).
services. Sustainable forest management is the leading ecosystem approach today, taking into account economic and social factors while sustaining forest ecosystems (FAO 2012a). It is a move away from species-focused management approaches, such as managing forests solely for timber production, towards sustainable management of a wide range of forests’ ecosystem services (MA 2005). Agroforestry, the practice of combining agricultural production with trees in or outside of forest ecosystems, has gained momentum as a sustainable practice beneficial for food and nutrition security. By planting trees amongst crops on cultivated land, agroforestry provides many of the same forest ecosystem services that are beneficial for food production (Dawson et al. 2013). Though agroforestry is an interdisciplinary practice, residing between forestry and agriculture, it can be viewed as a complement to sustainable forest management (Schoeneberger and Ruark 2003) that enhances food production, increases farmers’ incomes and improves the overall health of surrounding ecosystems (Jose 2009; FAO 2013d).
The combination of agriculture and trees provides more environmental benefits than other agricultural models. When