About Summer School

2011 Summer School Theme

The Science of Agroforestry

Agroforestry is a sustainable system of land management which increases overall production, combines forest and agricultural plants and/or animals simultaneously or sequentially, and applies management practices compatible to local farming traditions. Agroforestry has numerous ecological, biological, economical and environmental advantages and only a few disadvantages. Agroforestry represents the development of an ancient art of land management. Although this art had no special name, descriptions of such land use are found in the chapter of Genesis (2:8-9) of the Bible, for “gardens where all kinds of trees grew, offering beauty and food”. There are references of drawings and descriptions on papyrus of agroforestry gardens found in the East and dated to about 3,000 BC. Similar examples are described in ancient India, from Roman writers, in the Neolithic era, in the Middle Ages, in Central America, Asia, Africa and elsewhere in various time periods and geographic areas. In Greece and many other Mediterranean countries, all earlier systems of land use until the Second World War can be classified as agroforestry. The recognition of agroforestry as a separate science became in the late `70′s and early 80′s. In 1977 the International Council for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF.) was created in Nairobi, Kenya in order to compensate for the deforestation of tropical forests, the loss of fertile land and the poverty of the rural population through the application of improved agroforestry systems. At present agroforestry is getting new interest because its techniques contribute to reduce external inputs into farming systems and help to conserve soil fertility and environmental biodiversity thus, in turn, promotes long term sustainability.

Problem Statement

After the World War Two, there was an intensification of agricultural techniques with widespread use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides and agricultural machinery. The trees were removed from the cropped fields and pastures for impeding the movement of agricultural machinery and reducing cultivable area. Economical subsidies to monocultures reinforced intensive practices and ultimately the conversion of complex to simple agricultural systems or intensified monocultures. Several economic and environmental problems were originated by the search of increased yields without consideration of their quality and environmental conservation. At present, these problems rose the need for a different approach to the desired output, respecting the environment. The idea of agroforestry was the logical outcome of this need and essentially a return to the traditional ways of farming. Recently it has become a major focus in international development and is now at the forefront of innovation in natural resource management. The proposed subject covers the principles and practices of integrating trees into the rural agricultural landscape for both conservation and profit. The farming community requires trees and shrubs for shade and shelter, soil conservation, biological diversity, water quality, recreation and aesthetics. Additionally, farmers can produce commercial tree products such as timber, fuel, fodder, essential oils and food.

Completion of International Summer School 2011 video (englishgreek)

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