Agroforestry for People, Ecosystems and Climate (AfPEC)

Project summary

In the light of the biodiversity and climate crises, there is an urgent need for research on green solutions and not least for making science operative. Globally there has been increasing focus to agroforestry as a key tool for curbing climate change, soil degradation and the biodiversity crisis and at the same time being a provider of a diversity of products.
Agroforestry is a tradition in Africa. In east African highlands, arabica coffee is traditionally grown with shade trees to diversify and increase the output of the land. Diversification of coffee farming enables small-holder farmers to get timber and non-timber products (eg edible leaves, fruits and honey) and to increase productivity due to environmental benefits of trees (eg soil improvements and water retention). Trees in coffee agroforestry also help farmers adapt to climate change. An important aspect of agroforestry is that it is suited for inclusion of women in Africa, who often stay closer to the household and often have very small plots of lands. Agroforestry provides a variety of products that can be used for subsistence and for local marketing.

Study area
AfPEC focuses on Mt Elgon highlands in Uganda. Coffee farmers have traditionally with success used agroforestry that protects important water catchments and biodiversity hotspots, but these areas now experience degrading soils caused by external factors such as forest loss, soil erosion and population growth. Changes in climate also affect farming conditions favoring more drought-resistant crops and agroforestry systems with well-developed shade.

AfPEC aims to document the effects of agroforestry in terms of ecosystem services and livelihood benefits and thereby the potential of agroforestry to fight the two major global crises, climate change and biodiversity loss, and at the same time sustain local communities.
AfPEC also aim to understand what factors motivate coffee farmers to engage in agroforestry and to make agroforestry in practice together with farming communities. The best suited native tree species and the best practices will be identified and promoted.
The project is composed of seven partners: three university partners with multidisciplinary backgrounds, three Danish and Ugandan NGOs and a private communication company. All partners work in close collaboration with four coffee farmer communities.

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