Why farm forestry?
photo courtesy of ABC Landline
Establishing trees on Australian farms
has never before had the support it has today. Overclearing
threatens farm productivity, water quality, and Australias
unique biodiversity. This threat has generated extraordinary
government funding and community support for revegetation.
At the same time, concerns about harvesting timber from Australia's
publicly owned native forests, and importing tropical timbers,
has fuelled public support for more timber plantations. The
emotion and resolve generated by such issues highlights the
importance many Australians place on the environmental, economic
and social benefits of forests.
However, the conversion of farmland to industrial monoculture
timber plantations on a large scale has met with opposition
from some rural communities and conservation groups. Notwithstanding
the environmental and economic inadequacies of some farming
practices, the conversion of farmland to industrial plantations
is seen by many as leading to greater social and environmental
Although some farmers see plantations as a threat to agricultural
development there are many others who argue that forests are
an essential component of an environmentally, socially and
economically sustainable agricultural landscape. Rather than
replace farms with forests they favour the integration of
multipurpose plantations into their existing farming landscapes
in a way that enhances farm productivity, protects the natural
environment, and revitalises farming communities. Across Australia,
from Western Australias wheat belt to the North Queensland
tropics, farmers groups supported by governments, industry
professionals and conservationists have been established that
support commercial agroforestry and farm forestry.
The prospect of selling tree products and environmental services
is seen as an opportunity to stimulate farmers participation
in the establishment and management of forests. These forests
may also provide many non-commercial benefits for landowners
and their communities. But can agroforestry and farm forestry
deliver? Do they really represent a new and more widely acceptable
approach to the establishment and management of commercial
and non-commercial forests? What's a farm forest anyway, and
what has it got to do with farmers?
What is Farm Forestry
and how is it different?
farm forestry makes common sense
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