Ecostack Innovations spearheads agroforestry initiative in Malta
Agroforestry, the practice of integrating trees and shrubs into agricultural landscapes, has emerged as a promising alternative to traditional agricultural practices. This approach offers a multitude of benefits, including enhanced biodiversity, improved soil health, and increased resilience to climate change.
Providing ecosystem services synergies
Agroforestry is recognised for its multifunctionality, generating at least 13 ecosystem services and supporting 10 of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to a recent study by Aryal et al. (2023; Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability). These services range from the provisioning of food and forest products to the regulation of climate and hydrological systems, erosion control, nutrient cycling, and aesthetic and cultural values.
Mitigating climate change impacts and improving resilience
The implementation of agroforestry systems can significantly reduce the risks associated with climate change, as demonstrated by Quandt et al. (2023; Science of the Total Environment). During periods of heavy rainfall, tree roots prevent soil erosion, while their foliage acts as windbreaks during storms. Conversely, in times of drought, trees reduce evapotranspiration rates from crops and soil.
Ecostack Innovations Pioneers Agroforestry in Malta
Ecostack Innovations, through its work for the Agriculture and Rural Payments Agency, has laid the scientific groundwork to support the development of an agroforestry scheme in Malta. Work carried out included biophysical and economic data analyses, and statistical modelling approaches, to evaluate the suitability of different species and assemblages for inclusion in agroforestry schemes based on the environmental conditions.
The implementation of agroforestry schemes can play a significant role in supporting sustainable agriculture and promoting climate resilience. By providing subsidies and technical assistance to farmers, governments may encourage the adoption of agroforestry practices and help to build a more sustainable and resilient food system.