CIFOR–ICRAF publishes over 750 publications every year on agroforestry, forests and climate change, landscape restoration, rights, forest policy and much more – in multiple languages.

CIFOR–ICRAF addresses local challenges and opportunities while providing solutions to global problems for forests, landscapes, people and the planet.

We deliver actionable evidence and solutions to transform how land is used and how food is produced: conserving and restoring ecosystems, responding to the global climate, malnutrition, biodiversity and desertification crises. In short, improving people’s lives.

Importance of silvopastoral systems for mitigation of climate change and harnessing of environmental benefits

Export citation

Forest ecosystems are estimated to absorb up to 3 Pg of carbon (C) annually. In recent years however a significant portion has been returned to the atmosphere through deforestation and forest fires. For example tropical deforestation in the 1980s is estimated to have accounted for up to a quarter of all C emissions stemming from human activities (FAO 2003). In Central America more than 9 million ha of primary forest was deforested for expansion of pasture and more than half of this area is degraded (Szott Ibrahim and Beer 2000). Pasture degradation leads to a decline of the natural resource base (e.g. decreased biodiversity soil and water quality); m ore rapid runoff and hence higher peak flows and sedimentation of rivers; and lower productivity increased rural poverty and vulnerability and further land-use pressure. It is also related to a significant reduction in soil C stocks and is among one of the main reasons for the large C footprint associated with cattle ranching in Latin America (Ibrahim et al. 2007). On the other hand many studies in Latin America conclude that improved grasses and legume pastures can fix similar amounts of C to that of forest systems (Tarre et al . 2001; Ibrahim et al. 2007; Amézquita et al. 2008) and that they are associated with increased animal productivity (Ibrahim 1994). However the root systems of grasses are generally concentrated in the upper soil layers (0–40 cm depth) and there is little soil-derived C associated with grasses in the deeper soil layers (Nepstad et al . 1994). Furthermore large-scale cultivation of simplified grass monocultures results in agricultural landscapes that are more vulnerable to climate change.

Related publications