Diversity rich agroforestry approach for restoring forest fringes

The BRF forest fringe is an ecotone between forests and agricultural lands, and consists of very few trees and associated biodiversity. Both agricultural and forestlands in this ecotone are getting degraded at an alarming rate. ATREE has combined the latest technologies in enhancing soil fertility, using soil micro organisms, with nursery technologies, to strengthen appropriate agroforestry systems.

ATREE disseminated information on diversity-rich agroforestry systems to farmers and developed new propagation and nursery technology for lesser known indigenous multi-purpose trees and plants. We identified potentially new strains of beneficial micro organisms useful as biofertilizers in agroforestry systems. This research-driven intervention which developed as a farmer-friendly biofertilizer production technology replicated among farmers at low cost benefited the poor marginal farmers and also assisted the women in earning supplemental income. Restoring the land with biodiversity-rich agroforestry systems rejuvenated the land and its resources and helped in moving agricultural systems towards sustainability.

ATREE trained farmers in inoculating forest tree species with bio-fertilizers to grow healthy and vigorously growing seedlings. The project aimed to ensure economic viability of the farming community by providing multipurpose tree species which could be planted on bunds and in uncultivable land. The other expected spin-off of this exercise was to reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and to provide a cleaner environment.

Conservation and Livelihood Programme

ATREE’s Conservation and Livelihoods Programme (CLP) used a multi-disciplinary framework to explore the possibility of using forest resources sustainably, while simultaneously conserving biological diversity.

The focus was on

  • developing effective decision support tools for sustainable management of forests for non-timber forest products, fuelwood, and fodder
  • promoting sustainable organic agroforestry practices, which restore soil, water, on-farm diversity, incorporate NTFPs, and increase productivity while reducing dependence on forests
  • building capacities,
  • advocating necessary policy changes
  • strengthening local institutions to sustainably manage biodiversity
  • integrating conservation education in building awareness among the communities.

The approaches adopted to meet these objectives included Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), socio-economic surveys, ecological studies, policy and institutional analysis. We find that lack of ownership by Forest Department and local communities are the two major reasons for forest degradation, decreased livelihood options from forests, and resulting community migration.