Special Issue "Agroforestry and Ecosystem Regeneration"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainability, Biodiversity and Conservation".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 June 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Sara Burbi
Website
Guest Editor
Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University, Coventry, United Kingdom
Interests: agroecological livestock systems; agroforestry, silvopasture; livestock nutrition; climate change; resilience; farmer engagement; knowledge generation and dissemination; decision support tools
Dr. Ulrich Schmutz
Website
Guest Editor
Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University, Coventry, United Kingdom
Interests: agroecology; agriculture; ecological economics; organic horticulture
Prof. Moya Kneafsey
Website
Guest Editor
Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University, Coventry, United Kingdom
Interests: culture economies; participatory research methods; short food chains, local and community food initiatives; reforming food systems to deliver sustainable, resilient and socially just development
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Multi-functional landscapes can deliver a wide range of supporting, provisioning and regulating ecosystems services. Agroforestry is a highly multi-functional land use type with great potential for delivering important ecosystem services such as soil enrichment, nutrient cycling, increase in biodiversity, biomass production, improved air and water quality, and address issues such as land degradation and climate change (e.g. carbon sequestration). Albeit generally studied in rural contexts, agroforestry can effectively benefit both urban and rural regeneration by delivering both environmental and socio-economic services, especially when agroecological transition strategies are adopted. However, challenges in implementing the transition can include the design of long-term management strategies and the possibility of using agroforestry-adapted monitoring and evaluation tools to ensure landscapes and communities, whether urban or rural, are benefiting from the regeneration process.

The journal Sustainability is hosting a Special Issue on “Agroforestry and Ecosystem Regeneration”. Studies are welcome that address these challenges and focus on the links between landscape regeneration and socio-cultural benefits. Contributions on the following themes are of particular interest, though other relevant topics will also be considered:

  • Socio-ecological approaches for ecosystem services assessment
  • Development of tools to facilitate agroecological transitions. strategies for land management and decision making in urban, peri-urban and/or rural contexts.
  • Farmer-facing solutions to implement practical agroecological change and monitoring on-farm.
  • Agroforestry supply and value chains and its integration into a circular bio-economy.

Dr. Sara Burbi
Dr. Ulrich Schmutz
Prof. Moya Kneafsey
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • resilience
  • land use change
  • multi-functional landscapes
  • agroforestry
  • urban regeneration
  • rural regeneration
  • ecosystem services
  • social cohesion
  • environmental impact
  • carbon sequestration
  • native species

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
Long-Term Monitoring of Soil Carbon Sequestration in Woody and Herbaceous Bioenergy Crop Production Systems on Marginal Lands in Southern Ontario, Canada
Sustainability 2020, 12(9), 3901; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093901 - 10 May 2020
Abstract
Enhancement of terrestrial carbon (C) sequestration on marginal lands in Canada using bioenergy crops has been proposed. However, factors influencing system-level C gain (SLCG) potentials of maturing bioenergy cropping systems, including belowground biomass C and soil organic carbon (SOC) accumulation, are not well [...] Read more.
Enhancement of terrestrial carbon (C) sequestration on marginal lands in Canada using bioenergy crops has been proposed. However, factors influencing system-level C gain (SLCG) potentials of maturing bioenergy cropping systems, including belowground biomass C and soil organic carbon (SOC) accumulation, are not well documented. This study, therefore, quantified the long-term C sequestration potentials at the system-level in nine-year-old (2009–2018) woody (poplar clone 2293–29 (Populus spp.), hybrid willow clone SX-67 (Salix miyabeana)), and herbaceous (miscanthus (Miscanthus giganteus var. Nagara), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)) bioenergy crop production systems on marginal lands in Southern Ontario, Canada. Results showed that woody cropping systems had significantly higher aboveground biomass C stock of 10.02 compared to 7.65 Mg C ha−1 in herbaceous cropping systems, although their belowground biomass C was not significantly different. Woody crops and switchgrass were able to increase SOC significantly over the tested period. However, when long term soil organic carbon (∆SOC) gains were compared, woody and herbaceous biomass crops gained 11.0 and 9.8 Mg C ha−1, respectively, which were not statistically different. Results also indicate a significantly higher total C pool [aboveground + belowground + soil organic carbon] in the willow (103 Mg ha−1) biomass system compared to other bioenergy crops. In the nine-year study period, woody crops had only 1.35 Mg C ha−1 more SLCG, suggesting that the influence of woody and herbaceous biomass crops on SLCG and ∆SOC sequestrations were similar. Further, among all tested biomass crops, willow had the highest annual SLCG of 1.66 Mg C ha−1 y−1. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agroforestry and Ecosystem Regeneration)
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Open AccessArticle
Sensitivity and Uncertainty Analyses of Flux-based Ecosystem Model towards Improvement of Forest GPP Simulation
Sustainability 2020, 12(7), 2584; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12072584 - 25 Mar 2020
Abstract
An ecosystem model serves as an important tool to understand the carbon cycle in the forest ecosystem. However, the sensitivities of parameters and uncertainties of the model outputs are not clearly understood. Parameter sensitivity analysis (SA) and uncertainty analysis (UA) play a crucial [...] Read more.
An ecosystem model serves as an important tool to understand the carbon cycle in the forest ecosystem. However, the sensitivities of parameters and uncertainties of the model outputs are not clearly understood. Parameter sensitivity analysis (SA) and uncertainty analysis (UA) play a crucial role in the improvement of forest gross primary productivity GPP simulation. This study presents a global SA based on an extended Fourier amplitude sensitivity test (EFAST) method to quantify the sensitivities of 16 parameters in the Flux-based ecosystem model (FBEM). To systematically evaluate the parameters’ sensitivities, various parameter ranges, different model outputs, temporal variations of parameters sensitivity index (SI) were comprehensively explored via three experiments. Based on the numerical experiments of SA, the UA experiments were designed and performed for parameter estimation based on a Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) method. The ratio of internal CO2 to air CO2 ( f C i ) , canopy quantum efficiency of photon conversion ( α q ) , maximum carboxylation rate at 25 ° C ( V m 25 ) were the most sensitive parameters for the GPP. It was also indicated that α q ,   E V m   and   Q 10 were influenced by temperature throughout the entire growth stage. The result of parameter estimation of only using four sensitive parameters (RMSE = 1.657) is very close to that using all the parameters (RMSE = 1.496). The results of SA suggest that sensitive parameters, such as f c i , α q , E V m , V m 25   strongly influence on the forest GPP simulation, and the temporal characteristics of the parameters’ SI on GPP and NEE were changed in different growth. The sensitive parameters were a major source of uncertainty and parameter estimation based on the parameter SA could lead to desirable results without introducing too great uncertainties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agroforestry and Ecosystem Regeneration)
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Open AccessArticle
Plant Diversity and Agroecosystem Function in Riparian Agroforests: Providing Ecosystem Services and Land-Use Transition
Sustainability 2020, 12(2), 568; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12020568 - 11 Jan 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Achieving biologically diverse agricultural systems requires a commitment to changes in land use. While in-field agrobiodiversity is a critical route to such a transition, riparian systems remain an important, yet understudied, pathway to achieve key diversity and ecosystem services and targets. Notably, at [...] Read more.
Achieving biologically diverse agricultural systems requires a commitment to changes in land use. While in-field agrobiodiversity is a critical route to such a transition, riparian systems remain an important, yet understudied, pathway to achieve key diversity and ecosystem services and targets. Notably, at the interface of agricultural landscapes and aquatic systems, the diversification of riparian buffers with trees reduces the non-point source pollution in waterways. However, in riparian agroforestry systems, little is known about herbaceous community patterns and, importantly, the herbaceous community’s role in governing carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycling. Our study investigated herbaceous community taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity patterns in riparian (i) grasslands (GRASSLAND), (ii) rehabilitated agroforests (AGROFOREST-REHAB), and (iii) remnant forests (AGROFOREST-NATURAL). We then determined the biodiversity-ecosystem function relationships between community functional diversity metrics, C and N cycling, and greenhouse gas fluxes. We observed significant differences in taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity among riparian buffer types. We found that herbaceous plant communities in riparian agroforestry systems expressed plant trait syndromes associated with fast-growing, resource acquiring strategies, while grassland buffer plants exhibited slow-growing, resource conserving strategies. Herbaceous communities with high functional diversity and resource acquiring trait syndromes, such as those in the agroforestry riparian systems, were significantly correlated with lower rates of soil CO2 efflux and N mineralization, both of which are key fluxes related to ecosystem service delivery. Our findings provide further evidence that functionally diverse, and not necessarily taxonomically diverse, plant communities are strongly correlated to positive ecosystem processes in riparian agroforestry systems, and that these communities contribute to the transition of agricultural lands toward biologically and functionally diverse landscapes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agroforestry and Ecosystem Regeneration)
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Open AccessArticle
Agroforestry as a Biodiversity Conservation Tool in the Atlantic Forest? Motivations and Limitations for Small-Scale Farmers to Implement Agroforestry Systems in North-Eastern Brazil
Sustainability 2019, 11(24), 6932; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11246932 - 05 Dec 2019
Abstract
Agroforestry practices support agricultural resilience against climatic variability, increase soil productivity, can diversify and increase farmers’ incomes, and support native fauna in agricultural landscapes. However, many farmers are still reluctant to implement agroforestry practices. We distributed questionnaires to 75 agroforestry and 64 “conventional [...] Read more.
Agroforestry practices support agricultural resilience against climatic variability, increase soil productivity, can diversify and increase farmers’ incomes, and support native fauna in agricultural landscapes. However, many farmers are still reluctant to implement agroforestry practices. We distributed questionnaires to 75 agroforestry and 64 “conventional agriculture” small-scale farmers working in the northeastern region of the Atlantic Forest to identify the motivations and limitations to implement agroforestry practices. We reveal the four main reasons why farmers worked with agroforestry: Higher income generation (89%), diversification of the production system (86%), increase in the land’s quality and productivity (86%), and increase in self-sufficiency (82%). The three most common mentioned reasons for conventional agriculture farmers to not shift to agroforestry practices were: Uncertainty if the system will work (62%), reduction in yield of the main agricultural crop (43%), and a lack of models and knowledge in the region (41%). Agroforestry in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest region can support native fauna, but farmers need to be educated about agroforestry practices and encouraged to switch from conventional agriculture to agroforestry through an increase in available technical assistance and capacitation/training in agroforestry practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agroforestry and Ecosystem Regeneration)
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Open AccessCommunication
Migration and Agricultural Practices in the Peripheral Areas of Côte d’Ivoire State-Owned Forests
Sustainability 2019, 11(22), 6378; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11226378 - 13 Nov 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Côte d’Ivoire’s rural areas adjacent to the state-owned areas of the southern half of the country, such as classified forests, are experiencing significant migratory flows due to their agricultural potential. The population movements in these rural areas have changed the rural landscape. The [...] Read more.
Côte d’Ivoire’s rural areas adjacent to the state-owned areas of the southern half of the country, such as classified forests, are experiencing significant migratory flows due to their agricultural potential. The population movements in these rural areas have changed the rural landscape. The general objective of this study was to identify the peasant innovations implemented in these rural areas adjacent to the state’s forest domains in a context of land saturation caused by migratory flows. This objective was elucidated from the case of the classified forest of Haut-Sassandra (CFHS). To achieve this, surveys were conducted in 11 villages on the periphery of the FCHS to determine the profile of planters and the main crops grown. Subsequently, floristic inventories were carried out on farms to analyse the diversity of associated species. Analyses showed that the rural populations of the CFHS are mainly composed of Allochthones (64%). Four innovative production systems were identified: a cashew-based production system, a cocoa-based production system, a coffee-based production system and a coffee- and cocoa-based production system. These farmer innovations based on agroforestry practices make it possible to restore impoverished lands and fight against climatic hazards. Consequently, these local practices deserve to be popularised in areas of strong land pressure as strategies to overcome the shortage of arable land and fluctuating prices of agricultural production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agroforestry and Ecosystem Regeneration)
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Open AccessArticle
Socio-Ecological Niche and Factors Affecting Agroforestry Practice Adoption in Different Agroecologies of Southern Tigray, Ethiopia
Sustainability 2019, 11(13), 3729; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11133729 - 08 Jul 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
This study was carried out in the southern zone of Tigray to identify and characterize traditional common agroforestry practices and understand the existing knowledge of farm households on the management of trees under different agroforestry in different agroecologies. We conducted reconnaissance and diagnostic [...] Read more.
This study was carried out in the southern zone of Tigray to identify and characterize traditional common agroforestry practices and understand the existing knowledge of farm households on the management of trees under different agroforestry in different agroecologies. We conducted reconnaissance and diagnostic surveys by systematically and randomly selecting 147 farming households in the three agroecologies of the study area. A logit regression model was employed to determine how these factors influence farmers’ adoption decision. The findings indicate that a majority of the households (46.3%) were engaged in homestead agroforestry practices (AFP), followed by live fence (25.9%) and farmland or parkland (15%) agroforestry practices. The study identified Carica papaya, Malus domestic, Persea americana, Mangifera indica, Ziziphus spina-christi, and Balanites aegyptiaca as the most dominant fruit tree species found in the home garden agroforestry. In total, 68% of the households had some of these fruit trees around their home gardens. We also established the three most dominant agricultural production systems as: i) Agricultural production system, composed of fruit tree + cereal crops + Ziziphus spina-christi + Balanites aegyptiaca and/or acacia species; ii) agricultural production system, consisting of cash crops, like Coffee arabica and Catha edulies + fruit trees + Cordia africana + Balanites aegyptiaca and/or acacia species; and iii) agricultural production, composed of fruit trees + vegetables within a boundary of Sesbania sesban and other acacia species in the modern irrigated land. Furthermore, 90.16% of the households in the highlands reported a shortage of farmland for planting trees as the main constraint. About 34.44% farmers reported using leaves of Cordia africana, Balanites aegyptiaca, pods of acacia species, and crop residue as the main source of animal fodder. In total, 86.4% of the households also recognized the importance of multipurpose trees for soil fertility enhancement, control of runoff, microclimate amelioration, environmental protection, and dry season animal fodder. According to the logit model analysis, sex, family size, educational level, and landholding significantly (p < 0.05) influence the household’s role in the adoption of agroforestry practices. Based on these findings, farmers used different adaptation strategies, such as planting of multi-purpose trees (34.7%), conservation tillage to minimize both erosion and runoff potentials as soil conservation strategies (27.2%), varying planting dates, use of drought tolerant crop varieties (16.3%), and others based on farmers’ indigenous knowledge passed down from generation to generation. We conclude that agroforestry practices are important components of farming systems in Tigray, resulting in diversified products and ecological benefits that improve socio-ecological resilience. Therefore, we recommend that agroforestry practices are mainstreamed into development plans, especially in agriculture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agroforestry and Ecosystem Regeneration)
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Open AccessConcept Paper
Soft Robotics as an Enabling Technology for Agroforestry Practice and Research
Sustainability 2019, 11(23), 6751; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11236751 - 28 Nov 2019
Abstract
The shortage of qualified human labor is a key challenge facing farmers, limiting profit margins and preventing the adoption of sustainable and diversified agroecosystems, such as agroforestry. New technologies in robotics could offer a solution to such limitations. Advances in soft arms and [...] Read more.
The shortage of qualified human labor is a key challenge facing farmers, limiting profit margins and preventing the adoption of sustainable and diversified agroecosystems, such as agroforestry. New technologies in robotics could offer a solution to such limitations. Advances in soft arms and manipulators can enable agricultural robots that can have better reach and dexterity around plants than traditional robots equipped with hard industrial robotic arms. Soft robotic arms and manipulators can be far less expensive to manufacture and significantly lighter than their hard counterparts. Furthermore, they can be simpler to design and manufacture since they rely on fluidic pressurization as the primary mechanisms of operation. However, current soft robotic arms are difficult to design and control, slow to actuate, and have limited payloads. In this paper, we discuss the benefits and challenges of soft robotics technology and what it could mean for sustainable agriculture and agroforestry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agroforestry and Ecosystem Regeneration)
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