The potentials of agroforestry systems in Denmark and southern Sweden : a comparative study on farmers’ perceptions and agroforestry-related policies
Abstract: In the face of climate change, the urgent need for sustainable food systems has brought agroforestry under the spotlight in the Global North, for its provision of ecosystem services. Despite being less known in the Danish and Swedish context, the traditional practice of managing livestock in the semi-natural pastures, similar to the cut-and-carry systems in the tropics, is undeniably a form of agroforestry system. With an agroecological perspective, the study adopted a quantitative statistical analysis, and identified the perceptions of farmers in Denmark and southern Sweden towards temperate agroforestry systems via an online survey. Moreover, the study conducted a qualitative document analysis on grey literatures to review national policies related to agroforestry under the framework of the European Union Common Agricultural Policies (CAP). The connection of motivating and discouraging factors to adopt agroforestry pointed out by the farmers were examined along with the current policies. Farmers’ behaviour and attitude were further analyzed by conducting logistic regression modelling to distinguish the tendencies within Danish and Swedish farmers. The results revealed that ‘animal health and welfare’, ‘landscape aesthetics’, ‘soil erosion’, ‘microclimate moderation’, ‘pollination’, and ‘carbon fixation’ were perceived as positive factors by farmers from both Denmark and southern Sweden; while ‘administrative burden’ and ‘regulation’ were regarded as hurdles to include trees and bushes on farmlands. The study further identified the practice of organic operations and high diversity of livestock to be common indicators observed amongst farmers’ positive attitude towards agroforestry, regardless of the discrepancy between attitude and behaviour amongst Danish farmers. At the policy level, Denmark offered many agroforestry-related financial support schemes, while the similar schemes in Sweden were generally more restricted in practice and options, except for the diverse and detailed schemes for semi-natural pastures. It was thus concluded that the silvopastoral systems had a great potential amongst Danish and Swedish farmers if the density restriction was withdrawn. To establish more agroforestry systems, ‘pollination’ and ‘carbon sequestration’ could also be further promoted in both regions, while ‘soil conservation’ and ‘microclimate moderation’ should be included in the Swedish financial support schemes. Other suggestions followed the two streams to increase landscape heterogeneity and to have more pollinators, fruits and berries. An interdisciplinary collaboration between agriculture and forestry policy makers, and farmers’ participation in the policy-making process were further recommended.
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