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Agroforestry Statement
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The Royal Forestry Society (RFS) is amongst signatories to an open letter to the Environment Secretary Liz Truss urging her to review support for agroforestry measures in England.

Agroforestry is practice of integrating the cultivation of trees, crops and livestock on the same agricultural area for greater productivity and biodiversity. Its benefits can include water quality and flood protection, soil conservation and climate change mitigation.

Agroforestry Credit Stephen Briggs Lr
Agroforesty in action: Picture credit Stephen Briggs

The letter - available in full here - states: "We believe that the environmental benefits, not least in relation to the prevention of flooding and water management generally, and the potential uptake of agroforesty have been underestimated."

RFS Chief Executive Simon Lloyd says: "Agroforestry is an area that falls outside the current forestry and farming policy support framework in England. It deserves a higher profile among famers and landowners so that the evidence for increased land-use productivity and other non-market benefits can be better understood and exploited.”

The letter points out that at a wider European level, agroforestry is increasingly supported under new Rural Development Regulations (CAP Pillar 1 greening measures). Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all integrated agroforestry options into their rural development plans

It calls on the Environment Secretary to make agroforestry support measures available to farmers and landowners in England either under the CAP Pillar 1 measures or through Countryside Stewardship options (Cap Pillar 11) to enable trees to be planted at lesser densities ( 70-200 trees/ha) than currently (400 trees or more/ha).

Lead signatories are Stephen Briggs, Abacus Agriculture and Prof Nicolas Lampkin, Organic Research Centre.  More than 20 other organisations, including the RFS, have also signed the letter.