Improving governance of trees can better conserve biodiversity
The expansion and intensification of agriculture as well as the associated clearing of forests are threatening both biodiversity and human wellbeing in tropical areas. Mainstreaming conservation into agriculture is of utmost importance to reduce the loss of biodiversity and to enable sustainable landscape management. Implementing agroforestry — trees combined with crops and/or livestock — through a ‘landscape approach’ has been shown to have strong potential for integrating the objectives of nature conservation into agricultural systems.
Yet a key challenge for implementing such an approach — that is, treating entire landscapes as a single unit for planning and governance purposes rather than segregating the various land uses into separate elements — is that political processes and conservation initiatives operate in ‘silos’ largely disconnected from farmers and important local agents responsible for the governance of trees. There are often governance structures with strong relevance but little support for agroforestry systems. Most existing incentives support agricultural practices that do not consider trees and biodiversity and may even promote land-use change and deforestation of primary forests.