Why tree diversity in agroforestry matters: perspectives from the Comoros archipelago

The island of Anjouan in the Comoros has experienced one of the highest deforestation rates in the world. In the last two decades, 80% of its natural forests have disappeared. This was mainly due to agricultural pressure and excessive timber extraction, which triggered a negative spiral of natural resource degradation and poverty that put present and future livelihoods at risk.

Agroforestry is widely recommended as a pathway to restoring degraded landscapes through sustainable agriculture. However, different environmental and social benefits come from different tree species and management practices in different landscape niches. Researchers from World Agroforestry (ICRAF) explored the indigenous knowledge of smallholder farmers around Moya forest to assess opportunities and constraints in the development of agroforestry practices. Their results provided a basis for developing menus of tree options suitable for different farmers in different socio-ecological conditions.