Conference topics

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From Monday 22nd October it will be possible to submit your abstract

The 6th European Agroforestry Conference will be held in Nuoro (Sardinia) from 16 to 20 May 2022. EURAF 2022 invites researchers, farmers, trainers, advisors, agroforestry practitioners, policy and decision makers to submit their studies and experiences on agroforestry.

Agroforestry for the Green Deal transition. Research and innovation towards the sustainable development of agriculture and forestry”

 

Topic 1: Agroforestry and the Environment

1.1 Climate Change (adaptation & mitigation)

The European Commission has requested the European Parliament the planting of 1 billion trees in agricultural lands. Agroforestry is a diversified set of agricultural production systems, recognized as an effective strategy for both climate change adaptation and mitigation. Trees sequester and store large amounts of carbon both above and below ground. Trees also often increase soil organic matter and thus carbon storage in the soil.

Agroforestry can also support production in rural areas improving resilience to climate variability as well as climate change, through intensification, diversification and buffering of heat and water stress on understory crops. However, there is still little quantitative information on the mitigation and adaptation potential of different agroforestry practices in different climates. Papers contributing to this knowledge are welcome, whether dealing with field measurements and/or modelling work. Studies at plot, farm and landscape scale are all suitable.

1.2 Biodiversity

The European biodiversity strategy is fundamental to support the various ecosystem services delivered by agricultural and forest lands where agroforestry plays a key role. Among several ecosystem services, agroforestry has been reported to increase biodiversity both directly, by adding tree and shrub species in an arable crop environment, and indirectly by providing different habitats and landscape connectivity and this can favour a wide diversity of organisms. Thus, spreading of different agroforestry ecosystems may be a viable complementary land use strategy for biodiversity conservation through diversified farming. However, agroforestry includes a very large suite of practices and understanding their contribution to biodiversity requires specific knowledge. While increasing biodiversity is generally desirable, it can foster positive, negative or neutral effects on crop pests and disease. Functional biodiversity (i.e the biodiversity that effectively increases ecosystem functioning and productivity) is of particular interest for agriculture. Papers contributing with knowledge on the effect of agroforestry practices on biodiversity, and especially on functional biodiversity, are welcome.

1.3 Landscape planning and management

The European Green Deal goals linked to the climate neutrality have to be understood at farm level and up scaled for landscape management. This session focuses on options for a sustainable landscape development and management across spatial and temporal scales. It aims to highlight opportunities and synergies for securing the full range of goods and services through natural resource management and provide new directions for meeting the production with sustainable development goals. Agroforestry systems and practices promise to play a major role in this framework. Session topics will include: the analysis of agroforestry systems drivers, processes, hydrological and socioecological impacts at landscape scales; the role of agroforestry in the landscape for integrated management; the role in human health; limitations and knowledge gaps, as well as critical issues in local and regional planning through examples and case studies.

1.4 Wildfires

The European Forest strategy plans to reduce the forest fire occurrence and impact in the current changing environment. Fire frequency and fire-prone areas have increased in Southern Europe, and especially across Mediterranean areas. Several factors interact to increase wildfire risks, including climate and land use changes, socio-economic and fire-policy factors, extended wildland-rural-urban interface due to urban sprawl. Land abandonment, especially in mountainous regions, leads to shrub encroachment, contributing to increased fuel loading and fire risk. Agroforestry can contribute to landscape management reducing wildfire risk, while revitalizing abandoned areas, integrating fire prevention principles, and offering new job opportunities. This session welcomes contributions addressing the influence and prospects of agroforestry activities to better understand and manage wildfire risk, with an eye on sustainability and ecosystem service provision.

 

Topic 2: Quality, safety and sustainability of agroforestry productions (processes and products)

2.1 Crop and grassland productions

The next CAP (Community Agricultural Policy) includes agroforestry as a sustainable form to increase production and ecosystem services delivery, which can be linked to the green deal goal of having 25% of the farms as organic farms by 2030. In agroforestry systems, crops can significantly contribute to the overall productions and economic outcomes, depending mainly on the competition between trees and crops for light, nutrients and water, but also on tree density and age. Cereals (e.g. winter wheat in Dehesas in Spain) are the most common crops in agroforestry systems, but also vegetables (e.g. olive orchards intercropped with green leafy vegetables in Italy) to a lesser extent. Natural and sown grasslands, both mown and/or grazed, are also extremely common in agroforestry systems for feeding livestock. Research results on the role of trees on crop and forage yields highlight the need for further understanding of the conditions which contribute to the improvement, depression, or variability of yields under tree canopies. Moreover, studies on the quality and nutritional value of crop and forage products in agroforestry systems are very limited. The session welcomes contributions addressing the complex and multifactorial relationships between crops, grassland products and trees and the development and assessment of agroforestry management strategies which can maximize benefits and limit drawbacks. Studies integrating different scales and methodological approaches are strongly recommended.

2.2 Timber,  energy and non-wood forest productions

The EU bioeconomy and circular economy strategy is based on the use of renewable energy sources to prevent and reduce the climate change impacts. As an integrated cropping system with inclusion of trees over agricultural systems, agroforestry is expected to generate a mix of products and services, including timber, biomass for energy and non-wood forest products. There is clearly a need to define and design tree-based agroforestry systems with optimal integration of timber production over multi-functional systems, which can maintain high yields and mechanization, while reducing the need for external inputs, in order to reduce both economic and environmental costs. In fact, the presence of woody species over agroecosystems helps to reduce soil erosion and pollution and the dependence on external inputs and to enhance soil infiltration, water retention and soil fertility. Timber can be a valuable product in silvoarable systems, yet it is not clear how planting spacings, environmental conditions and management can affect wood and non-wood forest production in terms of quantity and quality. The topic is intended to bring research insights and methodologies to assess how functional processes, synergies, spatial development (intercropping, hedgerows, trees on stream/riverbanks, etc.) of agroforestry systems can affect and optimize timber, energy and non-wood forest productions.

2.3 Livestock productions

Animal welfare, based on the European citizens´ initiative ”End the cage age”, aims at sustainable livestock products. In future years, the global demand for meat, milk and dairy products will increase because of the growing population and the change towards a higher protein diet in developing countries. Moreover, climate change impacts livestock productions, affecting feed quality and availability, animal health, reproduction, and the feed conversion efficiency. Environmental stress and, more specifically, thermal stress directly affect productivity and health of livestock resulting in significant economic losses. The integration of crop, livestock and woody plants is recognized as a strategy to develop sustainable and resilient livestock systems through practices and features, such as for ex.: using shrubs and trees to feed ruminants to positively affect rumen metabolism and parasite control; improving the livestock thermal comfort, especially during summer (heat stress) and winter (thermal excursion); exploiting local resources, favouring grazing, and safeguarding local breeds. These effects have been mainly studied in tropical and subtropical areas whilst, in the temperate areas, the literature is still scarce. This session welcomes contributions addressing the effects of agroforestry implementation to develop sustainable livestock productions by increasing efficiency and profitability at both farm and animal level, contributing to the mitigation of and the adaptation to climate change.

 

Topic 3: Economy and Policy of Agroforestry

3.1 Neutrality Certifications and carbon farming

Carbon neutrality is becoming key in Europe for farms and companies, as the Green Deal aims at reaching climate neutral farms by 2050. These farms can also play an important role delivering carbon offsets to compensate emissions from other sectors. In the context of new globalization after the Covid-19 outbreak, international and national policies should recognize the increasing importance of certification to ensure an important role for agroforestry products for finding a balance between free market at a global level, as well as the support to local rural communities. In many European countries, massive illegal imports from tropical and subtropical countries dominate the market of hardwood timber. Carbon (C) farming, sequestering atmospheric C into the wood of trees and into the soils, is an emerging set of measures for combating the Climatic Crisis, as well as for offering new income opportunities to farmers adopting agroforestry. This session aims to assess the existing certification framework and the current development of a C farming market within the European common agricultural policy (CAP), as well as bilateral agreements between C emitting companies with farmers and other stakeholders. Is the research ready to measure and assess C farming potential of AF?

3.2 Agroforestry European policy

In Europe, the post 2020-CAP (Community Agricultural Policy) will be soon in force. After being poorly funded for many decades by the CAP regulations, agroforestry, as well as agroecology, is now in the agenda of the CAP plans, based on the recent “Farm to Fork ” and Biodiversity strategies, among others, as part of the European Green Deal objectives. These documents highlight the significant potential of agroforestry. Indeed, considerable administrative and knowledge barriers still hinder the actual application of AF. What lessons can be drawn from previous agroforestry policies in the European Countries and around the Word? What policy tools should be proposed in the next CAP? What is the role of research, training and technical assistance? How can EU Member States use the new policies to encourage AF for specific national needs? Eco-schemes are fundamental elements for the “Green Architecture” of the new CAP to fulfil its climate, animal welfare, and biodiversity goals. Agroforestry is specifically mentioned in the list of practices of eco-schemes by the European Commission stimulating good agricultural practices and gaining fundamental environmental benefits and ecosystem services. The eco-schemes will be mandatory for Member States and optional for farmers.

3.3 Agroforestry business environment models

Agroforestry implementation challenges are linked to technical, economic, educational and political issues as declared by 1500 actors, from 9 EU countries, working together thanks to the European project AFINET (2017-19). Despite the technical advance, the alternative uses of the woody perennials, which would foster economic models associated to the farms, are limited. In this perspective, attention should be paid to studies aiming at showing the economic viability of the exploitation of unused woody perennials agroforestry products and the possible development of short supply chains that can be connected to the production of raw material for cosmetics, feed, animal bedding, fibres for paper or biomass for heating. This is coherent with the new circular economy action plan (CEAP), one of the main building blocks of the European Green Deal.

A special focus is encouraged on the framework of national development policies to support good business practices and  their associated business models across territorial contexts (e.g. Biodistricts) that can enhance agroforestry functions.

3.4 Governance for traditional sustainable agrosilvopastoral systems

The adaptive capacity of silvopastoral systems is threatened not only by biophysical factors such as climate and biotic pressures, but also by the lack of knowledge on the human dimension of these socio-ecosystems. In Europe, abandonment and intensification trends are challenging the sustainability of such systems. Innovative governance is needed to address agroforestry landscape changes related to rural and urban societal transformations.  This session welcomes contributions from ground experiences but also arising from new participatory researching practices addressing the intertwined ecological and social processes that are transforming the traditional agrosilvopastoral systems.

 

Topic 4: Agroforestry in Society and Culture

4.1 Education, training, dissemination and promotion

The next CAP (Community Agricultural Policy) is proposing a set of measures to reinforce the extension services rule, needed to foster agroforestry in Europe. For many decades the study of agriculture has been completely separated from that of the more specialized forestry curricula. What is the present state of agroforestry studies in the main courses of the agricultural, forestry and livestock sectors of secondary, post-graduate and university education? How can we break down the barriers of specialist training, in favor of more holistic interdisciplinary skills? How can we convince farmers and foresters that agroforestry is useful for them as well as for the sustainable use of resources and the environment? Which approaches should be followed to disseminate agroforestry? Can local operational groups between agricultural and forestry actors be a good tool?

4.2 Gender and youth engagement in agroforestry

Through the European Green Deal, Europe intends to be the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. At the same time, the European first-ever Gender Equality Strategy aims at making gender equality a real condition in the European Union. Synergies between these two strategies must improve gender equality in energy, climate, and sustainability space in Europe. Furthermore, the possibility for new generations to overcome obstacles and live from their vocation for farming is at the basis of the strengthened economic, social and environmental sustainability of agriculture by 2050. Because of that, it will be essential for member States to promote diverse sustainable agricultural practices, such as organic farming, agroforestry, agroecology, precision farming and conservation agriculture. Involving more women and young farmers in agriculture is of utmost importance and agroforestry can be a driver to achieve that. We, thus, warmly encourage abstracts on such topics.

4.3 Agroforestry and historical landscapes: heritage identity and a driver for sustainable tourism

Historical agricultural practices most often included the promiscuous cultivation of trees, arable crops and/or livestock, thus creating agroforestry landscapes. Crop specialization changed the agricultural practices towards agronomic intensification, thus creating monocultural landscapes. Some historical agroforestry landscapes survive today, at times on a large scale (Dehesa, Montado, grazed olive orchards, Nature 2000 areas) and other times on a small scale. Such landscapes should be preserved for their historical, cultural and landscape value, as well as for the biodiversity they host and the farming knowledge they allow to maintain, which can contribute to the design of new, modern, yet sustainable farming systems. Official recognition of the historical, cultural and landscape value (as in the case of GIAHS – Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems – promoted by FAO, which are resilient systems characterized by remarkable agrobiodiversity, traditional knowledge, invaluable cultures and landscapes) of surviving traditional agroforestry systems may contribute to their preservation, directly, e.g. via subsidies, and indirectly, e.g. by promoting tourism. However, this potential added value is often more beneficial to society as a whole than to the farmer owning the surviving landscape. This creates the risk of abandonment of these remaining historical landscapes with high natural value. Papers investigating the cultural, heritage and knowledge value of historical agroforestry landscapes, and how this can contribute to their preservation and valorization, both for the farmer and for the society as a whole, are welcome.

The abstract will be aimed at two types of communications:
1) Oral presentation to be held during the parallel sessions
2) Poster presentation

Abstracts have to be edited strictly following the guidelines indicated in the template.