Agroforestry Standards for Regenerative Agriculture

Agroforestry is increasingly being recognized as a holistic food production system that can have numerous significant environmental, economic, and social benefits. This growing recognition is paralleled in the USA by the budding interest in regenerative agriculture and motivation to certify regenerative practices.
Authors: Craig R. Elevitch, D. Niki Mazaroli and Diane Ragone
 
Journal: Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3337
 
Publisher: MDPI 
 
Abstract
 
Agroforestry is increasingly being recognized as a holistic food production system that can have numerous significant environmental, economic, and social benefits. This growing recognition is paralleled in the USA by the budding interest in regenerative agriculture and motivation to certify regenerative practices. Current efforts to develop a regenerative agriculture certification offer an opportunity to consider agroforestry’s role in furthering regenerative goals. To understand this opportunity, we first examine how agroforestry practices can advance regenerative agriculture’s five core environmental concerns: soil fertility and health, water quality, biodiversity, ecosystem health, and carbon sequestration. Next, we review a subset of certification programs, standards, guidelines, and associated scientific literature to understand existing efforts to standardize agroforestry.
 
We determine that development of an agroforestry standard alongside current efforts to certify regenerative agriculture offers an opportunity to leverage common goals and strengths of each. Additionally, we determine that there is a lack of standards with measurable criteria available for agroforestry, particularly in temperate locations. Lastly, we propose a framework and general, measurable criteria for an agroforestry standard that could potentially be implemented as a standalone standard or built into existing agriculture, forestry, or resource conservation certification programs. 

Photo: This young Samoan breadfruit agroforest integrates numerous crops including banana (Musa spp.), noni (Morinda citrifolia), cacao (Theobroma cacao), poumuli (Flueggea macrophylla), and coconut (Cocos nucifera). The structure and diversity of crops is an instructive model for regenerative agroforestry. (credit: Craig R. Elevitch)

 
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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