The loss of vitality and productivity observed in montado ecosystems is due to inefficient management and use of water and soil, with soil loss in cork oak areas accompanied by a worsening of this dynamic due to climate change.

The ECOMONTADO XXI project aims to study the implementation of a new forest management practice with a view to the recovery of the montado ecosystem, using techniques for the restoration of ecosystems resulting from the concepts of Permaculture and Agroecology, namely the Keyline planning system, for the integrated management of soil and water resources.

In response to worsening wildfires in the Mediterranean as a result of climate change, this study investigates the impact of sheep grazing on silvopastoral land in Spain. The goal of this study was to quantify and clarify the effect of fuelbreak grazing on ground cover and growth of holm oak saplings. The paper also reports on how the grazing impacted herbage biomass and species composition. The data was collected over the course of three consecutive years, which allowed the researchers to observe the impact of climatic changes on grazing.

This study compares the carbon storage of soil in a silvopastoral system and a treeless pasture in Spain. Carbon quantity in silvopastoral soil was measured under two species of trees: Radiata pine (Pinus radiata D. Don) and Birch (Betula pendula Roth). The amount of carbon was measured at different soil depths. The researchers found that there was significantly more carbon stored in the soil under both types of trees in the silvopastoral areas as compared to the treeless pasture. The results of this study indicate that silvopastoral systems, systems in which trees are planted on agricultural land, promote longer-term storage of carbon in the soil as opposed to conventional agricultural systems.

Europe’s traditional cultural landscapes have undergone significant land-use and land-cover changes in the past 50 yr. Land-cover inventories facilitate the quantification of the conversion from one land-cover unit to another. However, they often fail to detect fine-grained modifications that occur within one land-cover category. This study aims to detect such land-cover modification at two farms within dehesas, a traditional agroforestry system in Spain. The focus is on the dynamics of holm oak (Quercus ilex) stands as the key landscape element of dehesas. Aerial photography and satellite imagery were used to measure tree expansion and regression between 1956 and 1984, and between 1984 and 2003. With <0.01–0.03% of the tree cover recruited per year, current recruitment seems too low by a factor of 10 to 50 to maintain existing stand densities. Recruitment rates between 1956 and 2003 were slightly higher, but loss rates were dramatically higher on privately owned land compared to common property. Although higher grazing pressure on common property may have inhibited recruitment, the complexity of land tenure can act as a barrier to forest clearing. The synopsis of high loss rates from 1956 to 1984, low loss rates from 1984 to 2003, and low recruitment rates over both periods indicates that deliberate oak cutting has stopped, but that the problem of regeneration failure still remains unresolved. The analysis of oak expansion and regression as a precursor of land conversion can provide a powerful tool for subtle structural changes and can be used as an early warning system before conversion becomes visible.

This 2018 report outlines three experiments conducted by AGFORWARD. These three experiments make up a study that seeks to improve the management of agroforestry systems with chestnut trees. The first experiment involved evaluating the damage done by Celtic pigs on unprotected and protected chestnut trees. The results of this experiment showed that the pigs caused more damage to the unprotected bark of the trees, but the metal barrier did not protect the tree roots. The second experiment involved inoculating an adult chestnut stand with Boletus edulis mushroom. This experiment was not successful, likely due to drought and climatic conditions. Finally, in experiment three, grafted and self-rooted varieties of chestnut trees were produced and tested. This experiment was successful and can be used to evaluate issues related to chestnut infection by Phytophthora spp.

This video illustrates how some farmers in Galicia, Spain use agroforestry to adapt to the effects of climate change. For instance, Nieves Fernándes notes that grazing her livestock in forested areas lessens the impact of wildfires. Additionally, the increasingly hot weather exacerbated by climate change can reduce the production of crops. In this video, Maria Rosa Mosquera mentions that growing certain crops beneath trees in an agroforestry system can increase crop production.

Quinta das Abelhas (“farm of bees”) is a project dedicated to studying an agroforestry system in the Alentejo in Portugal. Marc Leiber, a student of Ernst Götsch, implements syntropic farming techniques at Quinta das Abelhas to restore degraded soil, provide a home for pollinating insects, and re-establish the water cycle to create a climate-resilient agroforest. This project aims to create a place for all generations, especially young people who have moved to urban areas, to observe the benefits of syntropic farming and agroforestry.

This Permaculture Design Course hosted by Kausay Community includes over eighty hours of classes on Permaculture taught by four permaculturists. The two-week-long program covers the history of permaculture, soil health, water use, plants (including agroforestry), food production, and more topics. Kausay Community is an environmentally-focused community that exemplifies environmental stewardship and living in harmony with nature. The course spans from June 11 to June 26 of 2022.

The overall aim of WildFood is to promote the implementation of joint innovative strategies by involving different actors of the Wild Food Products (WFP) value-chain in the Mediterranean area, focusing on selected products (mushrooms, truffles, pine nuts & Aleppo pine seeds, aromatic plants, acorns and berries) in view of improving their quality and safety controls and sustainability.

The specific objectives are:

Analyse and compare the situation of the WFP value-chains and actors in Med PRIMA-communities and identify gaps between current knowledge and its practical implementation;
Design and demonstrate innovative solutions for tackling the pressing challenges of the WFP value-chains in terms of quality and sustainability by exploring existing business models and control systems in all stages of the chain;
Facilitate the market access of Med companies and increase the added value of local products by implementing innovative marketing strategies, targeted dissemination and outreach activities;
Strengthen the integration among the main agro-food value-chains actors promoting partnerships and new models of mutual collaboration, as well as, social inclusion and entrepreneurial business culture;
Facilitate the adoption of technological and organisational innovations by smallholders and SMEs through capacity building and targeted business support as well as interactive knowledge-exchange.

There is increasingly contrasting evidence of the interest of agroforestry systems as a productive alternative in temperate conditions. The available bibliography shows a broad consensus on the advantages of these systems at a productive-economic level (greater accumulated production and profitability), environmental (biodiversity, protection of water and soil) and social (patrimonial and aesthetic value, feeling of ownership), always that are well planned and managed. As a result, particularly where the regulations are favorable to these systems, there is a growing number of productive and experimental-demonstrative experiences.


Dr. Sara Burbi - Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience - Coventry University, Ryton Gardens Campus, CV8 LG, UK
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