What is Agroforestry and Why is it Important

Agroforestry is a type of agriculture that incorporates the planting, cultivation, and conservation of trees alongside crops or livestock farming. It’s a model of land management that integrates the unique relationships within a given ecosystem, and offers benefits on many fronts – environmental, economic, and/or social.

According to the USDA, for a management practice to be called agroforestry, it must usually satisfy the four "i"s:

  • Intentional
  • Intensive
  • Integrated
  • Interactive

This means that you’re not simply planting crops in an area that is naturally surrounded by trees, but fully leveraging the impact of each growth component in a holistic system.
That's why every fraction of a degree of warming matters, and why doing everything we can to reduce climate change and keep warming to 1.5C is so important.


5 Benefits of Agroforestry to Show How Trees and Agriculture Work in Balance

coffee plant

1. Healthy crops support healthy trees

Our partners in Guatemala, The New Roots Foundation, shared a fun fact with us about how a recent batch of saplings will be planted on farms near coffee and cacao plants, which will help keep the soil and trees fertilized and free from pests.

When crops are kept fairly small and rotated, they help to nourish and enrich the surrounding land, which helps trees grow strong and resilient.

livestock grazing

2. Trees provide shelter and food for livestock

The presence of trees in areas of livestock grazing benefits the animals by giving them fruit and bark to eat, shade to keep cool in the heat, and providing protection against wind and rain when the weather cools down or the rainy season sets in.

Trees also help reduce the animals’ stress, helping them feel more at ease in their environment. While livestock was often considered a part of forest farming early on, animals becoming less common in the practice of agroforestry.

riparian forest buffer

3. River maintenance

Trees and shrubs planted along rivers and streams helps filter farm runoff, prevent erosion, and create better moisture balance in the area.

This is called a riparian forest buffer, and it is common practice around the world.


4. Forest farming

Forest farming is a method that cultivates specialty crops (such as ginseng, shiitake mushrooms, or medicinal herbs) under the protection of a forest canopy that has been modified to provide optimal shade level.

The forest serves as a complex natural environment for the edible, floral, or medicinal crops harvested, while soil erosion is prevented and trees can mature.

farm and trees

5. Eco-stability

Agroforestry practices often focus on the preservation of natural forests while also cultivating a productive agriculture system.

Agroforestry has the potential to regenerate soil and ground water supply, prevent droughts, and provide financial value for farmers.

With a forest managed through natural cycles of conservation, harvesting, and replenishment, the result is a win-win for both people and the planet.

rwanda nursery reforestation

Agroforestry is a great model of sustainable land use where community members need incentive and value in keeping forests standing, and it’s one used by a growing number of our planting project partners. Many struggling communities resort to cutting down trees simply to survive from the profits of logging. With agroforestry, they generate income from crops while keeping healthy forests alive!

Want to help get more trees planted? Make a difference by planting a tree today!

Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most

Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most

As the need for reforestation is global and ever-changing, we feature where trees are most needed now. Today, we're raising funds to create community forest spaces across England. Learn more

With your help, we will:

  • Invite educational opportunities by engaging local schools
  • Create publicly accessible woodlands for community spaces
  • Increase forest connectivity for native biodiversity
  • England, in the United Kingdom, used to have abundant forest coverage, but changes in land use have caused significant deforestation. In addition to being critical to protecting the climate, forests also build community. This reforestation project will be a highly engaging, community-led initiative to create educational opportunities, volunteer planting events, and public spaces so that everyone, including the most marginalized communities, can enjoy England's native flora and fauna.Thank you so much for your support of healthy forests! 🌲
  • These more than one million trees will make a significant climate impact, sequestering carbon and creating climate resilience by mitigating flooding and the effects of pollution. This project supports increased access to public woodland, especially for communities in need, with opportunities for community engagement and improved public health. Organizations like Forest School and Woodland Outreach will be able to integrate the project with school education to get children out in nature.
  • A personalized tree certificate (see gallery) to say thanks for your donation. We'll also send you updates about this project, so you can track the impact your trees are having on the community and environment.
  • Our partner has chosen native trees that will bring the greatest overall benefit to the area. This includes the following: Pedunculate/Common Oak, Downy Birch, Hazel, Hawthorn, Small-leaved lime, Rowan, Silver Birch, Common Alder, Aspen, Goat Willow, Field Maple, Hornbeam, Beech, Blackthorn and tens more.


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We plant trees in 6 regions around the world. Want to choose where yours are planted?