Authored by Allison Tennant, Carbon Removal Program Assistant, Institute for Carbon Removal Law and Policy & Union of Concerned Scientists
On September 2nd, the Institute for Carbon Removal Law and Policy (ICR) hosted a webinar on agroforestry, the latest in our explainer series. ICR Fellow Jason Funk moderated a panel that featured:
- Susan Stein, Director of the USDA National Agroforestry Center
- John Munsell, Professor and Forest Management Extension Specialist in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation at Virginia Tech
- Patrick Worms, Senior Science Policy Advisor at the World Agroforestry Centre, presented on the different technical and economic aspects of agroforestry.
Susan Stein kicked off the presentations by giving the USDA definition of agroforestry: “The intentional integration of trees or shrubs with crop and animal production to create environmental, economic, and social benefits.” She then explained five types of agroforestry — forest buffer, alley cropping, silvopasture, windbreak, forest farming — and how they remove and store carbon. In the U.S., over 30,000 farms practice some form of agroforestry with government and private support.
John Munsell followed with the social, environmental, and economic benefits of agroforestry, such as increasing yield, increasing soil, improving air and water quality, and strengthening social capital. He also explained some of the barriers to widespread adoption and potential policies to address those issues. While a lack of awareness and knowledge of agroforestry among farmers poses one barrier, the time and space needed to see returns poses a more formidable obstacle. Professor Munsell discussed upfront payments for land conversion, performance-based payments, and cost-share programs as ways to address that barrier.
Patrick Worms rounded out the presentations by giving an international perspective and examples. He pointed out the great potential for agroforestry, and land management solutions in general, to remove carbon dioxide worldwide and the need for broader adoption. Currently, 43% of all agricultural land has more than 10% tree cover, but there are many opportunities for growth.
The presentations were followed by questions from the audience.
The Institute for Carbon Removal Law and Policy would like to thank environmental journalist Erik Hoffner for helping to organize this webinar. Erik publishes a series on agroforestry for the award-winning environmental news site Mongabay.com, which you can find at https://news.mongabay.com/series/global-agroforestry/
The next webinar in this series is “Equity and Justice in Carbon Removal” which will take place Monday, September 21 at 10am ET. Sign up here. You can find recordings of all past webinars on our website.