Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 181–195 | Cite as

Some considerations regarding principles and practice of information collection on multipurpose trees

  • Peter G. Von Carlowitz


With the increased recognition of agroforestry as an alternative land use approach many scientists and development workers have focused their interest on multipurpose trees. However, this rapidly rising interest is not matched by a corresponding level of available information, which is crucial to their proper assessment, evaluation and use both in agroforestry research and in development.

Consequently the task of systematic collection, storage, evaluation and dissemination of information and data on multipurpose trees calls for attention as a matter of urgency.

As one of the major problems peculiar to multipurpose trees in the process of data collection and management, the large number of potential species is especially addressed and the implications are briefly outlined. The large number of species, combined with the complexity of the subject originating from the multiple uses of multipurpose trees and the specific attributes related to them, not only increases further the quantity of information required, but also demands a high degree of competence from those who collect and manage this information. Attention is drawn to the need to facilitate an objective short-listing of priority species for further development by raising the level of information necessary for the many species to be compared in the process.

In view of the magnitude of the information requirements, Hackett's (1983) modular system is briefly described and its benefits and problems are discussed.

In order to cope with the almost unlimited information requirements derived from the many species that have to be dealt with and from the specific inter-relationships between multipurpose tree uses and other aspects related to them, a systematic approach to computerized data collection, storage and management is suggested. This entails the introduction of and distinction between inventorial, supplementary (specialized), and support data bases. In connection with this proposal, due emphasis is placed on the need to set up data base networks in order to ensure maximum accessibility of accumulated data and to avoid unnecessary duplication.

ICRAF's Multipurpose Tree Data Base — its objectives, choice of descriptors and its general approach to data collection and management — is briefly described as an example of an operational data base.


Data Base Information Requirement Computerize Data Support Data Information Collection 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff/Dr W. Junk Publishers 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter G. Von Carlowitz
    • 1
  1. 1.International Council for Research in AgroforestryNairobiKenya

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