Agroforestry is alive and well in Europe. Until recently, there was no “European-wide” agroforestry association, and only a few European countries had agroforestry associations. EURAF – European Agroforestry Federation formed late last year and held its first European Agroforestry Conference in October in Brussels, Belgium. Over 100 participants attended from 17 countries. There were two days of very interesting presentations about agroforestry across Europe.
As a representative of AFTA, I gave the token North American agroforestry overview.Attending the meeting were a broad spectrum of academics, NGOs, government personnel and especially a substantial number of farmers/practitioners. The enthusiasm for agroforestry among participants was high, and it was great to see the breadth of agroforestry in Europe.The meeting was held in Brussels for the simple reason of raising awareness of agroforestry in the European Union (EU). During the conference, one morning was actually spent at the Parliament presenting agroforestry issues to European Commission and Parliament members and their staff. The objective was for the policy-makers to recognize the benefits of actively growing of trees of agricultural lands. The newly formed Federation wants to make agroforestry systems eligible for more EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments. Simply put, there are limits on subsidies to farmers who internationally plant trees within cropping or animal systems, which is a disincentive to practice agroforestry.The European Agroforestry Federation is very interested in linkages and cooperation with AFTA. For example, they are holding their annual meetings every other even year, so it does no overlap with our North American Agroforestry Conference which is every other odd year. Quite a few delegates in Brussels expressed interest in attending our 2103 Conference in Canada. I hope in 2014 there are many North Americans attending their next conference. I urge you to visit their website at https://euraf.isa.utl.pt/where you also can view presentations from the conference.
AFTA President and Professor of Forest Resources, Pennsylvania State University
Dept. of Ecosystem Science and Management