Restoring trees to an agricultural landscape can deliver multiple, multi-tiered benefits for farmers, ranchers, the environment, and society.
Here at the Woodland Trust, we have been busy working with a growing band of farmers and researchers to convince the policy makers trees should be a key component of any land management policy.
Trees make farming systems more resilient and productive whilst simultaneously delivering an array of ecosystem services. But under CAP, the separation of policy regimes at UK and EU level for agriculture, forestry and nature conservation failed to recognise the benefits of tree and agriculture integration.
EU legislation discouraged farmers from integrating trees into their farming systems by stating that more than 100 trees per hectare would result in the loss of their Basic Farm Payment (BFP).
The Woodland Trust is working with a growing number of farmers who are leading the way in showing how trees play a key role in their business and the delivery of an array of public benefits.
This is often referred to as agroforestry; farming systems that deliberately combine trees and shrubs with crops or livestock. It’s a land management approach that balances productivity and the protective functions of ecosystem services.
In other words, it avoids the trade-off between food provision and other services such as clean water, healthy soils, abundant wildlife and landscape character.
For arable farmers, trees reduce wind speed, which protects against soil erosion, manages soil and air temperature, maintains soil moisture, lengthens the growing season, and increases yields…sometime by as much as 3.5%.
The Woodland Trust has over 500,000 members and supporters. They manage more than 1,000 sites, covering over 26,000 hectares all over the UK.
They protect and campaign on behalf of this country’s woods, they plant trees, and they restore ancient woodland for the benefit of wildlife and people.
Photo credit: Phil Formby / WTML