Why Farm Forestry? / What Is Farm Forestry And How Is It Different?
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  What is farm forestry and how is it different?

Most definitions of farm forestry and agroforestry focus on trees’ function, location or arrangement, and emphasise the expected benefits of farm forestry/agroforestry.

In its National Farm Forestry Program, published in 1995, the Federal Government defined farm forestry as " … the incorporation of commercial tree growing into farming systems; it can take many forms: plantations on farms, woodlots, timber belts, alleys, wide-spaced tree plantings, and native forests"; and suggested that its advantages include improving " … agricultural production by providing shelter for stock and crops. It also provides substantial environmental benefits such as water table and salinity reduction." (National Farm Forestry Program 1995)

The International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF) defines agroforestry as a " … dynamic, ecologically based, natural resources management system that, through the integration of trees on farms and in the agricultural landscape, diversifies and sustains production for increased social, economic and environmental benefits for land users at all levels."

If only this was always the case. Unfortunately many agroforestry and farm forestry projects fail to deliver the expected economic and environmental benefits.

It is impractical to define agroforestry or farm forestry as a predefined set of land use practices with attractive outcomes. Nor is it possible to distinguish these forms of forestry from industrial, corporate or government forestry by how they look. It is not the scale, the planting pattern, the species or the purpose of a forest that makes it a "farm forest" or "agroforest". It is the ownership. Not just ownership of the land or the trees, but ownership of the decision to do it and how it is done. Farm forestry and agroforestry are simply the result of a farmer's decision to practice forestry. What it looks like and how it performs will depend on interests, resources and opportunities facing the farmers involved and their ability to design and manage their forests effectively.

Farm forestry is the commitment of resources by farmers, alone or in partnerships, towards the establishment or management of forests on their land.

Farm forestry and agroforestry are about choice—farmers choosing to commit their resources to the development and management of forests for, amongst other things, commercial return. Farmers may establish and manage their forests for any mix of the benefits that forests can provide. They may place an emphasis on a single outcome such as timber production or biodiversity, or they may seek to balance a range of benefits in a multipurpose planting. Their priorities may also vary over the farm or change over time. For example, a forest initially established or managed for wildlife or land protection might later be harvested for timber or valued for its beauty. Forests on farms may increase agricultural production or displace it. They might be sustainable and improve economic, social and environmental capital or they might deplete these assets. The farmer, or their partners, may or may not profit from farm forestry.

Other definitions of farm forestry and agroforestry
Discussion and debate over the importance of definitions

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