The Dartington Hall Trust has co-signed an open letter to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Elizabeth Truss MP, requesting a review of the government’s position on the use of agroforestry methods in England.
The Trust is just one of a large number of organisations including the Royal Forestry Society, The Woodland Trust and The Permaculture Association who believe the benefits of agroforestry practices merit greater consideration by policy-makers.
In the letter, the co-signatories state that “…if adopted (agroforestry) could make a positive contribution to climate change mitigation, flood prevention and agricultural productivity… We believe that the environmental benefits, not least in relation to the prevention of flooding and water management generally, and the potential uptake of agroforestry have been underestimated”.
Agroforestry is the practice of integrating the cultivation of trees, crops and livestock on the same agricultural area for greater productivity and biodiversity.
Dartington is in the process of exploring the possibilities of the practice, and 50 acres of agroforestry will be planted on the estate later this year at Old Parsonage Farm. The initiative is part of the estate’s Land Use Review in action, and aims to explore and promote the possibilities of this little-understood form of agriculture.
The Dartington estate is also home to the Agroforestry Research Trust, cultivators of a self-sustaining ‘forest garden’ containing a very diverse number of species and thus very resilient to pests, diseases and the vagaries of the climate.
This lack of understanding is addressed in the letter as an issue: “…the premature rejection of agroforestry options by your predecessor was at least in part, based on lack of familiarity … with the subject itself… We would like to invite you to visit a farm in East Anglia where commercial agroforestry is practiced, so as to view for yourself the merits of such systems and meet with stakeholders and farmers involved and interested in adopting agroforestry.”