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Forests Sustaining Agriculture

Forests Sustaining Agriculture

The Contribution of Forest-Based Ecosystem Services to Agricultural Production

Forest ecosystems are crucial to agricultural production through their direct and indirect contribution of provisioning, regulating and supporting services. These include, but are not exclusive to, pollination services, nutrient cycling, climate regulation, resilience to climate events, soil stabilization and watershed protection. Current initiatives on agricultural intensification appear to overlook the contribution of ecosystem services for crop and livestock productivity.

Although some work has been undertaken on enhancing on-farm provisioning of ecosystems services, the ecological and socio-economic value of forests and trees in terms of their contribution to agricultural production has rarely been integrated into land use planning and other processes.

Past and current work on valuing ecosystem services in general has taken on an economic perspective in placing monetary values on the services provided by nature. Although this is highly informative, it lacks evidence on the direct and indirect contribution of ecosystem services to agricultural productivity.

The purpose of this working group is to review forest and tree-based ecosystem services for their relative contribution to agricultural production with a focus on one or more forest derived services and their links to agriculture. The working group will include an include emphasis on ecosystem services from trees across the landscape, and hence incorporates both forest formations and trees on farms. Based on this critical evidence-base, we will engage with the broader policy/development nexus to bring integrated landscape approaches with a focus both on agricultural production and forest-based ecosystem services.

Contact: Terry Sunderland, terry.sunderland@ubc.ca