Using polycultural, multistoried agroforestry in highlands

Restoring degraded uplands with agroforestry
The search for addressing the environmental degradation problems facing the uplands and hillylands in most parts of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, inevitably ends up in the selection of an agro-forestry based intervention strategy. Perennials such as trees are an important component of any such stabilization strategy. However, some of the best designers of widely adopted traditional agroforestry systems have been the farmers themselves. One such example is the polycultural, multi-storied cropping system of Cavite, Philippines where over 12,285 hectares of land are devoted to agriculture planted to various crops which include coconut, coffee, banana, papaya, pineapple, upland rice, tuber crops and different kinds of fruit trees along with the shade producing [Gliricidia sepium]. This agroforestry system was developed by the farmers themselves and has evolved over the years (and continues to do so).

The forest gardens of highland Sri Lanka are dense, species-diverse systems. These analogues of natural forests provide their owners with food, fuel, fodder, timber and cash crops, and the native flora and fauna with habitat. The forest gardens have persisted through centuries of socio-political upheaval and economic change, while the natural forests surrounding them have been felled for timber and to make way for large scale plantation agriculture. Natural forest regeneration on abandoned plantations land is hindered by recurring fires during the dry season. Today, in the largely deforested highlands, the villages with their gardens resemble forest islands in a sea of degraded grasslands. The farmers in the traditional villages hold the key to reforestation encoded in the management of forest gardens which are planted in the grassland as villages expand. Principles from the farmers' knowledge, particularly patterns of vegetation change over time, may also provide insight for reforesting marginal lands with ecologically and economically viable agroforestry systems elsewhere in the highlands of the tropics and for buffer zone management of forest reserves.

The Javanese traditionally practice shifting cultivation in those upland areas where paddy culture is impractical. The multi-storied garden is a highly productive, stable system for food growing in such tropical areas.

Type Classification:
G: Very Specific strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 15: Life on Land