The successful promotion of agroforestry in Italy depends on both a recognition of tradition and the opportunities for innovation. In Italy, agroforestry has traditionally been a key component of landscape management. Complex systems, based on the integration among crops–livestock–fruit/forest trees, provided a wide variety of products (e.g. food, feed, fibers, fuelwood and timber) and other ecosystem services (e.g. soil erosion control and biodiversity preservation). Silvopastoral systems have been used for centuries and are still managed in marginal areas. The integration of fruits trees (in primis olive trees) with crops and grazing was widely practiced and is still profitable. Coltura promiscua was historically developed integrating fruit and forest trees and particularly multifunctional trees (e.g. Juglans regia L. and Prunus avium L.) to support vines and intercrops. Building on recent research, projects have also focused on innovation in agroforestry. The adoption of shade tolerant forage species and crops has been studied in silvopastoral and olive systems. Silvopastoral systems can significantly offset the greenhouse gas emissions produced by livestock and shield grazing animals from “heat waves”. Integration of fast growing timber trees (like Populus) in arable systems can help reverse the decline in plantation forestry in Italy. Finally, the constraints imposed by the EU agricultural policy, especially the prevalent provisions for monocrops severely limiting the introduction of innovative agroforestry approaches, are discussed. New political measures and certification actions are strongly required.
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