|Review Article (Open access)
Inst. Int. J. Life. Sci., 5(6): 2412-2420, November
Agroforestry Practices on Biodiversity Conservation-A Review
Achiso1*, Nebiyou Masebo2
Professor, Department of Natural Resource Management, Wolaita Sodo University,
*Address for Correspondence: Mr. Zewde Achiso, Lecturer, Department of Plant Biology and
Biodiversity Management, Wolaita Sodo University, Sodo, Ethiopia
Globally, forests hold more than 75% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity
but between 2010 and 2015, about 3.3 million hectares of forest lands were
lost. The conversion of forest to agricultural land was a major reason for
biodiversity losses in tropics where most of the world’s biodiversity reserves
are found. High population growth in the regions causes loss of biodiversity. Currently,
biodiversity conservation and mitigation of climate changes are environmental
challenges. To reduce deforestation, farmers integrate trees on their farmland
to acquire ecological, economic and social benefits from natural forests and
woodlands. Thus, the aim of this paper is reviewing the benefit of parkland
agroforestry practices on biodiversity conservation. Parkland agroforestry practices have given
more emphasis to climate amelioration, fertility improvement, water
conservation, and biodiversity improvement. The practice is known
by growing scattered trees on farmland by integrating annual crops; which
maintains species diversity. Their rich diversity makes them ecologically
resilient and provides more and better ecological functions. Parkland agroforestry
practices reduce deforestation and pressure on protected forests by providing
alternative bioenergy, timber and other forest products from farmers’ fields.
Moreover, it is used as an ecological corridor allowing species to move between
habitats. In other ways, the interactions between tree, crop and livestock
components in parkland agroforestry can be positive, negative or neutral.
Biodiversity conservation has an effect on ecological interaction under
parkland agroforestry. Thus, promoting parkland agroforestry practices plays a role
in the conservation of biodiversity in varieties of ways if implemented based
on the principles that control leaving bare land.
Conservation, Ecological corridors, Parkland, Resilient
INTRODUCTION- The vast majorities of forests particularly in
tropics have either been transformed or degraded by anthropogenic activity,
with agricultural expansion being widely recognized as a driver of the change .
In where, the high population pressure makes land management practices
challenging . A high rate of deforestation and land degradation
continue to raise the questions in most parts of the continents. International
communities are facing challenges to finding strategy convenient to both rural
livelihoods and biodiversity conservation . Land-sparing and
land-sharing have emerged in recent years as contrasting strategies to tackle
the trade-offs between livelihoods and biodiversity conservation .
is a multifunctional land-use that involves agriculture and forest production system
in the same unit of land , which is widely promoted for the
conservation of biodiversity to support rural livelihoods . The agroforestry
system approach is an integrated tactic of using the interactive benefits from
combining trees with crops and livestock. It combines agricultural and forestry
technologies to create more diverse, productive, profitable, healthy and
sustainable land-use systems .
expansion and intensifications are the main drivers of the current biodiversity
crisis [1,4]. Obviously, for last past 25 years, the world’s forest
area has declined from 4.1 billion ha to just under 4 billion ha, decrease of
3.1%. The rate of global forest area net loss has slowed by more than 50%
between the periods 1990–2000 and 2010–2015 . These changes in
biodiversity are driven by combinations of drivers that work overtime, on
different scales, and that tend to amplify each other. In addition to this,
there is also a worldwide concern that human activities such as pollution,
habitat destruction, overexploitation and foreign plant and animal invasions
are resulting in the ever-increasing loss of the earth's biological diversity
. This is because, the major challenges in tropical land management
are meeting the growing demand for agricultural products while conserving
biodiversity, providing ecosystem services, and sustaining rural livelihoods.
do this, onsite or out of the site conservation, approach like parkland agroforestry
practices, home-garden agroforestry practices, trees and water conservation
measures, alley cropping and so on should be implemented, to reduce
deforestation problems . Farmers use their indigenous knowledge
to conserve their environment; the CBD 2014 suggested the use of traditional
knowledge, innovation and practices of aboriginal and local communities to
achieve the strategic plan of Biodiversity 2011–2020 .
Now-a-days, out of 46% of agricultural
land trees in the world, an estimated 30% of the world’s rural population uses
for different purpose . Integrating trees and shrubs in food
crop systems helps to address food insecurity, increase sequestration of CO2
 and reduce agricultural systems hazards [2,3].
Almost half of agricultural lands in the world have tree cover of 10%,
suggesting that agroforestry system like parkland agroforestry is an integrated
system mixing trees, crops and livestock within agricultural landscape .
Moreover, the role of complex agroforestry and other agroforestry systems have
gained attention due to the urgency of increased concerns about the loss of
biodiversity and ecosystems services [1,6]. Thus, they are an
alternative to the segregated approach of agricultural simplification, where
ecological functions are substituted by technical means and external inputs .
This has led to increasing interest in quantifying the tradeoffs between
integrated and separated landscapes because; the role of agroforestry in
achieving biodiversity conservation goals has gained hastening attention in
third world countries.
in agroforestry systems is usually higher than that of conventional
agricultural systems due to the scattered trees on farmland agroforestry
practices, which create more complex habitat that, support a wider variety of
fauna . In this
agroforestry practices, the multipurpose trees decisively
selected and maintained when conversion of woodland to farmland is taken. It
favors the survival of native plants and improves the yield of crops and
minimizes the impact on the companion crop .
Commonly, the parkland
agroforestry practice is the result of farmers’ strategy to keep the advantage
of gathering from the wild plant’s resources while producing it there. It
combines different trees and cereal crops within the same land, reduce risks in
agricultural production and enhance biodiversity [6,15]. This
practice also illustrates how farmers value and manage plant resources in their
territory, which contributes to the conservation of plant genetic resources and
biodiversity conservation as whole , which keep wide range of
species in farmland and increase efficiency of parkland agroforestry practices.
Thus this review paper was aimed to review the potential of parkland
agroforestry practices on biodiversity conservation.
Agroforestry combines agricultural and forestry technologies to create
integrated, productive, diverse, healthy and sustainable land-use system.
Agroforestry is a feature of agriculture landscapes throughout the world, but
the extent to which it is practised varies from region to region .
It ranks high among the significant initiatives in improving land management’s
that occurred during the past few decades. Today, nearly a billion hectares of
agricultural landscapes already have more than 10% tree cover and an estimated
total of 1.6 billion hectares of land worldwide has the potential to be under
agroforestry management in the foreseeable future [5,16]. Globally,
about 560 million people live in agricultural ecosystems that contain a tree
cover of more than 10%, which equates to 31% of all humans inhabit farm
to the ICRAF definition, about 22.2 million square kilometer agricultural land
and minimum of 10% trees of cover agroforestry world widely.
high percentage of tree cover is found in nearly all continents of the world,
highest being in Central America and Southeast Asia. Although Africa shows a
smaller percentage of tree cover at a continental level, the most widespread
farming system in Africa is the so-called agroforestry parkland (scattered
trees in cropland), making Africa a typically “treed continent” in agricultural
Table 1: Global forest area change,
Annual net Change
Forests (Thousand ha)
Area (Thousand ha)
Calculated as the compound annual
Biodiversity conservation- The
growing human population, in combination with the increasing costs for fossil
energy will enhance pressure on the land . On intensively
managed land, increased biomass production could cause additional pressure on
ecological functions of agro-ecosystems, and on soil and water resources .
Consequently, now a day the two greatest challenges facing world agriculture
are the production of sufficient food for the world’s population and the
conservation of biodiversity. Among the
different alternatives that have been suggested by scholars is agroforestry,
which is a series of land-use management principles based on a high number and
diversity of components, and flexible technical management, aimed at increasing
land productivity while taking into consideration ecological and economic
concerns. It is one of the innovative solutions whose approach ensures higher
productivity without further damaging natural resources base and allow
adaptation to the changing climatic conditions world. Combining trees and crops
in agroforestry systems improves the efficiency of utilization of resources
(water, nutrient and light) and thus leads to an overall higher biomass
production . Simultaneously, it reduces soil erosion and
nutrients leaching and landscape biodiversity increment .
Agroforestry is an innovative land use system in different parts of the
world, moreover, in marginal regions and
on degraded lands, agroforestry systems is the best approaches this is due via a
forestation and reforestation could lead to modification of land use systems
and bids new income possibility for the respective communities.
that agroforestry provides immense among which biodiversity conservation is one
of the most important issues due it is the approaches of diversification.
Biodiversity is the variability of all life forms across all levels of
biological organization, in agricultural landscapes, biodiversity occurs as a
mosaic of farms with different crops and vegetation actively managed by
Agroforestry often increases
biodiversity through integration of crops, shrubs, trees and/or animals into
the system. Agroforestry contributes to biodiversity conservation through providing
additional habitats for species that tolerate
lower levels of disturbance , conservation of remnant native
species and their gene pools, erosion control and water recharge thereby
preventing the degradation and loss of surrounding habitat, buffering the
pressure on deforestation of the surrounding natural habitat and provision of
corridors and stepping stones for persistence and movement of area-sensitive
floral and faunal species through linking fragmented habitats in the landscape [20,21].
system also helps to maintain a greater number of species outside their native forest
areas. Conservation of woody species on smallholder farms for different
traditional practice has a long history, particularly in the tropics. For
example, forest gardens in Sumarta and West Kalimantan, Indonesia was reported i.e.
50–80% diversity, which is comparable to natural forest and also indicated that
converting coffee and cocoa agroforestry systems to plantation reduced species
richness by 46%, while conversion of natural forest to agroforestry resulted in
merely an 11% reduction in species richness, farmers have a tradition of
keeping valuable tree species and their farms act as refugees .
At the landscape level, agroforestry provides habitats that are suitable for a
large number of native fauna and refuges biodiversity including ants, bats,
frogs, lizards, bees, beetles and birds [17,19].
There are considerable differences in
species richness between different agroforestry practices. Reviews shown that
the presence of highest number of plant species in traditional agroforestry,
followed by coffee farming, tree-cropping and cocoa farming systems. Studies
indicate that there are between 17 (fruit tree system) and 429 plant species
(various agroforestry systems) grown in agroforestry systems in Ethiopia, where
they are not the only supporter of local livelihoods but also are important in
conserving the native biodiversity. Another study in Ethiopia also by Endale et al.  indicated a
total of 165 plant species comprising 31% tree, 18% shrub and 45% herbaceous
plants growing in homesteads, farms and pasturelands. The research reported,
which was found by Rice  indicates that the practice of tree
integration in farmland production systems plays a very important role in
biodiversity conservation this is owing to many local people, who are short of
forest goods and services, introduce trees in agricultural landscapes of
different types of agroforestry practices, the research report from Uganda
indicated also tree planting and conservation common practices in the
traditional farming systems of agroforestry systems suggests that farmers may
be contributing to tree diversity conservation by actively planting trees in
their farms [15,23], there are various agroforestry practices that
could play a crucial role in ecological, economical and socio-cultural aspects
namely parkland agroforestry practices, home garden agroforestry practices,
alley cropping, relay cropping, hedgerows, windbreaks and shelterbelts, trees
on soil and water conservation structures.
In the ICRAF agroforestry systems list,
parkland agroforestry is categorized under multipurpose trees on farmlands.
Under this, woody species in parklands are often considered as a source of
products and services important to the farmers’ livelihood and welfare.
Recently, it is recognized as a part of woody species in landscapes and plays
an important role in maintaining biodiversity . Agroforestry
parkland practices are mainly cropland areas with dispersed trees (often Native).
Among the characteristics of traditional agroforestry, parklands are the diversity
of tree species they contain. They provide favorable micro-climates (especially
through shade) and buffer extreme conditions (as a windbreak and shelter belt).
Commonly, parklands are found primarily in the semi-arid and sub humid zones
like in West Africa. Faidherbia albida based agroforestry practices in
which cereal cropping systems is pre-dominant throughout the Sahelian zone and
in some parts of East Africa. In many parts of the world, local peoples use
these systems to fulfill their food security problem, for income generation and
protection of their environments.
Agroforestry practices use for increase of Land productivity- Generally, land productivity will be
assured if the land use system is tree based approach like parkland
agroforestry practices in which scattered types of trees on farm land is
common, the presence of trees on land doesn’t allow the soil to be eroded
easily rather the roots of perennial plant species merges the soil structures
Productive roles of the system refer to the
production of food, timber, shelter, fodder, manure, fuel wood, and the like , which are mainly goods required to
meet basic need of the communities.
Trees in the park-land contribute to
livelihoods in different mechanisms mainly in production broadening of forage
feed for livestock  that enables the producers to include animals in their
agricultural system thus creating additional income diversification and food
for times when crop harvest is less than an expected, fuel wood, construction
materials, [10,18] for instances, the perennial tree
species F. albida, which is most
known parkland agroforestry tree species, nitrogen fixing tree, null negative
effects of its shade on underneath crop/plant species and the most researched
agroforestry species in different countries which improves barley and maize productivity [10,26].
assumption in agroforestry is that productivity is higher in agroforestry
systems as compared to monoculture systems due to complementary in resource
capture in which trees acquire resources that the crops alone would not. This
is based on the ecological theory of niche differentiation; different species
obtain resources from different parts of the environment. Tree roots generally
extend deeper than crop roots and are therefore able to access soil nutrients
and water unavailable to crops, as well as absorbing nutrients leached from the
crop rhizosphere, moreover, these nutrients are then recycled via leaf fall
onto the soil surface fine root turnover. Thus, the situation in agroforestry
leads to greater nutrient capture and higher yields by the integrated tree crop
system compared monocultures agricultural systems.
agroforestry practices for Biodiversity conservation- Forests
hold more than 75% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity  but
between 2010 and 2015, the world lost 3.3 million hectares of forest areas. The
change of forest land to agricultural land is the major reason for biodiversity
losses in tropical regions where most of the world’s biodiversity reserves are
found. High population rates in these regions continue to drive the expansion
of agricultural land  as a result, currently, conservation of
biodiversity and mitigation of climate change are the most important global
environmental challenges, particularly in the tropics [18,19]. The pressure of human population due by
the expansion of agriculture and consequently resulted in declining the
productivity of the soil which manifested in the crisis of loss of biodiversity,
the main drivers of the current biodiversity crisis .
roles of parkland agroforestry practices are considered as protective and give
more emphasis to the sustainability of the systems services such as climate
amelioration, improving soil fertility, reducing wind erosion, soil and water
conservation, and biodiversity improvement . The practice is an
indigenous rural land use system which allows farmers to grow annual crops in
combination with useful perennial trees  but could be fulfilled
if parkland species diversity is adequately conserved. The plantation of multipurpose trees
for enhancing soil productivity through a combination of selected trees and
food crops on farmland is one of the reasons for practicing parkland agroforestry
which is a
good example of traditional land use systems that have been using for
biodiversity conservation. Though the
agroforestry has less species diversity than the tropical forest, they have a
variety of species diversity compared with traditional agricultural systems .
Their rich diversity makes them ecologically resilient and thus gives them the
ability to provide more and better ecological functions, review also indicated
that AF is diverse and have low-input strategies; these have greater biological interactions and thus are
richer in biodiversity . In addition to this, the
parkland agroforestry practices can also reduce deforestation and pressure on
protected forests by providing alternative bioenergy, timber and other forest products
from farmers’ fields . It provides a range of ecosystem services
that benefit the surrounding landscape and thus prevent habitat degradation.
Apart from having indirect effects, trees on farm could also host a significant
part of the biodiversity found in tropical forests reserves, as the species
richness in it is higher compared to agricultural fields with annual crops .
Many of the species living in forest reserves are also better protected if
agroforestry buffer zones are created around the forests. Moreover, parkland
agroforestry farms used as ecological corridors allowing species to move
between different habitats . Such corridors are very important
in a fragmented landscape as the vitality and survival of a population of
species is often dependent on genetic exchange between subpopulations .
The role of agroforestry practices in
attaining biodiversity conservation goals has gained accelerating attention in
recent years . In this regard, there is an emerging trend toward
major public investments for rewarding farmers for the ecosystems services that
their properties provide to society, in both the emerging economies and the
developed world such as India and China . This suggests that the
integration of trees into agricultural systems (parkland) will be a major issue
in the coming decades for biodiversity conservation. On the contrary of this,
measures to increase biodiversity in agricultural landscapes often reduce yield
or increase costs which imply that there is a strong disincentive for farmers
to adopt biodiversity-friendly practices . These disincentives
might be overcome by economic incentives or internalized by legal obligations
for instances, in the developed world, governments have been implementing
agri-environmental schemes that couple legal obligations and economic subsidies
to achieve biodiversity-friendly management in agricultural settings of
parkland agroforestry practices . Specifically, agroforestry
systems contribute to biodiversity conservation on landscape level in three
most important ways, these are:
Provide the supplementary secondary
habitat for species that tolerate a certain level of disturbance;
Reduce the rates of conversion of
natural habitat in certain cases, and
Create a more benign and permeable “matrix”
between habitat remnants compared with less tree-dominated land uses;
Human-driven land-use changes
increasingly threaten biodiversity, particularly in tropical forests where both
species diversity and human pressures on natural environments are high .
In this, the rapid conversion of tropical forests for agriculture, timber
production and other uses has generated vast, human-dominated landscapes are
the potentially risks for biodiversity conservation, which is the result of
habitat conversion [18,27] for instances in Madagascar due to
habitat conversion and fragmentation the survival of carnivores diversity
became questionable in which the carnivores are one of the most threatened
groups of terrestrial diversity . This is because, declines and changes in
biodiversity can have direct or indirect impacts on ecosystem function,
persistence, and services [16,23], consequently, species
that are unable to shift their geographic distributions or have narrow
environmental tolerances will be at an increased risk of extinction [10,29].
The semi-forested structure i.e.
agroforestry farm, as opposed to a mono crop plantation system without trees,
provides habitat for migratory birds and secondary habitat for species that
tolerate a certain level of disturbance , which shows that the
agroforestry systems that situates close to natural forest may have a greater
diversity of forest birds, mammals and insects as being the alternative habitat
for those organisms unlike non tree based systems. Moreover, agroforestry farmland
also used as home for various wild animals, which have diverse function in
balancing ecosystem for instances, research in cocoa based agroforestry farms
in Panama found that higher numbers of insects and spiders attacking the cocoa
plants, and more leaf damage when native birds were prevented from visiting the
plantation than it found in normal farms, illustrating that maintaining bird
populations through agroforestry based
coverage plays an important role in controlling harmful insects .
Agroforestry systems like scattered
types of trees on farmland has also the capacity to conserve biodiversity while
promoting agricultural production  and can be used to enhance
resilience to climate change  in reducing the rate of natural
habitat. Thus, parkland systems, plays a
positive roles in conserving biodiversity by providing perennial habitat for
species, preservation of germplasm for sensitive species, corridors between
habitat remnants needed for the conservation of area-sensitive plant and
animal species and also used for erosion control and water quality protection .
Component interaction in Parkland agroforestry
the interactions between the tree crop and livestock components can be positive,
negative or neutral. In the case of complementary results in increasing the
capture of a limiting resource, and greater total production than if the two
components had been grown separately. In this, negative interaction, when the
two components overlap in their resource use, can lead to competition and hence
lower productivity than if the components are grown separately. Where there are
no direct interactions between system components, the net effect of combining
them is neutral , generally, the situation in component
interactions of the parkland agroforestry practices is indicated in the
following sections, there are:
Microclimate balance and Animal welfare- Trees balance microclimatic
conditions including temperature, water vapor content and wind speed, which can
have beneficial effects on crop growth and animal welfare . Wind
speed reductions can extend to 30 times the height of tree belts on the leeward
side [20,24]. Wind speed can be reduced due to the presence of trees
on farmland acts as the windbreaks and shelter belts. The resultant decline in
wind erosion effects can have multiple benefits for crops including increased
growth rate and quality, protection from windblown soil, moisture management
and soil protection, on the contrary of this the extreme temperature and wind
speed has a detrimental effects on agricultural production, and forestry
resources on farm and the same is true for animal resources [8,14].
Multipurpose tree species on farmland also have
multifunction Eg. Trees they provide resources for animals like diversity of
forage resources; it provides shelter from rain and wind, shade from the sun,
which is mainly true in semiarid and arid areas.
Disease control- Reduced pest
problems in agroforestry systems have been recorded due to greater niche
diversity and complexity than in monoculture systems [13,27]. This
can be attributed to several mechanisms . Variable distribution
of host plants makes it more difficult for pests to find the plants. A plant species, which is highly attractive
to pests, can act as a ‘trap-crop’, protecting nearby valuable species from
herbivore attack. A plant species, which is repellent to pest herbivores, may
also deter them from others. The presence of high inter-specific competition
between pest and non-pest species shall restrict the spread of pests.
the agroforestry components arranged in a manageable way, the systems could
lead to greater structural and microclimatic diversity, increase stability,
greater biomass and stable refuges for beneficial organisms [12,19].
interactions in components of Agroforestry- The components
(perennial tree crop and livestock/pasture) in parkland agroforestry practices
overlap for their use of resources (nutrient, water and light) and then they
compete which may lead to reduce productivity of the components as compared to
a monoculture agricultural system. The competition situation for the respective
resource varies from the region to region for instances, in northern temperate
regions the main limiting resource for plants is usually light and studies have
shown that shading has reduced yields in temperate agroforestry systems [10,16]
and likewise competition for water between tree and crop components is
likely to limit productivity in semiarid regions, although it is difficult to
separate competition for water from that for nutrients  and
indeed, reduced evapotranspiration due to tree shade effects on understory
plants may increase soil water content compared to open pastures .
The completion between plants and micro-organisms also common in component
interaction systems though it is the overlooked area in agroforestry practices,
for instances some species of plants and fungi can have a direct negative
impact on others through the production of bio-chemicals called
allele-chemicals that influence germination, growth, development, reproduction
and distribution of other organisms, these allele-chemicals can be released
into the rhizosphere via plant root exudates .
Agroforestry helps in reducing
biodiversity loss by providing a protective tree cover along agricultural
fields. The presence of trees further enhances diversity by providing shelter
and habitat to a diversity of other flora and fauna. It also helps in
conserving genetic diversity of landraces and trees that are in danger of loss
and require priority conservation . Further, it also helps in
conserving traditional knowledge about the conservation of wild varieties of
trees and other plants, studies have shown also that higher biodiversity levels
and species richness in AFS than in sole cropping systems.
components in Agroforestry help in biodiversity conservation through different
means mainly: via provision of secondary habitats for species; reduction in the
rate of conversion of natural habitats, and creation of permeable matrix
between habitat remnants .
a given site, AFS has more diversity both at above- and belowground levels than
the sole cropping system, it also provides homes to species in the event of
some catastrophic fire, complex AFS has higher biodiversity levels than simple
sun-grown crop system but lesser than from the primary forest.
rich diversity makes them ecologically resilient and thus gives them the
ability to provide more and better ecological functions since, in addition to
this, it also uses low-input strategies, which have resulted in greater biological
interactions and thus are richer in biodiversity, thus component interaction in
AFS is an excellent land-use practice for biodiversity conservation and
sustainable development, and it also helps in reducing the dependence of local
farmers on the natural resources of the protected areas like national parks and
The leading causes of global
biodiversity loss are expansion and intensification of agricultural systems. The concept agroforestry holds many intermediate
land-use forms, where trees cover a significant proportion of the landscape and
influence microclimate, energy cycles, biotic processes and biodiversity
conservation as well. Though, protection of natural habitats is the backbone
for conservation of biodiversity on agricultural land where natural habitats
are highly fragmented to meet the demand of high population pressure.
Agroforestry improves biodiversity as it provides more habitats and food for
birds, small mammals, reptiles, earthworms and insects, which in turn lead to
an increase in species diversity as a whole. Agroforestry practices like the
parkland agroforestry help to reduce biodiversity loss by providing protective
tree covers along agricultural fields for flora and fauna.
practicing parkland agroforestry is important in conserving biodiversity,
seizing carbon and in mitigating climate change. Promoting the system and
advocating the principles not to allow the land to be left bare is the key
We thanks to Wolaita Sodo University for
every facility during the writing of this review paper. Special thanks will go
to all, who contributed in manuscript preparation in one way or the other.
CONTRIBUTION OF AUTHORS
Research concept- Zewde
Research design- Zewde
Achiso, Nebiyou Masebo
Materials- Zewde Achiso, Nebiyou Masebo
Data collection- Zewde
Achiso, Nebiyou Masebo
Data analysis and Interpretation- Zewde Achiso, Nebiyou Masebo
Literature search- Zewde Achiso, Nebiyou
Writing article- Zewde Achiso, Nebiyou
Critical review- Zewde Achiso, Nebiyou
Article editing- ZewdeAchiso
Final approval- Zewde Achiso, Nebiyou Masebo
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