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Combining silvopastoral systems with forest conservation: The caíva system in the Araucaria Forest, Southern Brazil


In Southern Brazil, caívas, agroforestry systems within patches of Araucaria Forest that include cattle production, have been used historically throughout the region. Despite their importance for biodiversity conservation, this system is being progressively replaced with high-yield agricultural crops, resulting in forest loss. However, such a loss of native vegetation could be avoided by developing appropriate technologies to optimize production and conservation, thus making caívas more attractive to farmers. This research tested two alternatives to traditional caíva (TC) management to identify strategies to increase pasture yield while also maintaining forest regeneration potential. The two alternative strategies are: (1) winter overseeding of cultivated pasture on natural pasture (WOC); (2) replacing natural pasture with giant missionary perennial pasture (GMC). The experiment was conducted in eight caívas, from October 2014 to February 2017. Pasture yield was evaluated monthly, and soils were analyzed at the beginning and end of the experiment. Richness and density of forest regeneration were also assessed through surveys carried out every six months in all plots. Results show that both alternative strategies were effective in increasing pasture yield, pH, and base saturation in soil. Further, these alternatives showed no impact on the total organic carbon content in the soil or on forest seedling diversity and richness, but with TCs showing a higher rate of forest regeneration. These results indicate how research that develops strategies to optimize use can help to improve traditional productive systems, preserving their social, economic, and environmental importance for communities.

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Availability of data and material

The dataset generated and analysed during the current study are available by contacting the first authors, upon reasonable request.


  1. A. angustifolia seeds, an important food source for several faunal species that has also been consumed throughout the region for thousands of years (Reis et al 2018).

  2. The leaves of Ilex paraguariensis St. Hil. (Aquifoliaceae), known in Brazil as erva-mate (yerba mate in Spanish), are processed for consumption as a hot tea (chimarrão) or cold infusion (tererê) as well as for other uses in the food, medicinal, and chemical industry (Croge et al. 2020).

  3. Initially, there were three plots with GMC treatment. But one had to be removed from the analysis due to the owner’s mismanagement in maintaining the plot.


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Special thanks to the owners of the studied caívas for their partnership, to Agronomist Paulo Silva of Epagri for his support to the program's participatory research, and to Evelyn Nimmo for providing helpful comments and corrections to previous versions of the manuscript.


All work was funded through the program SC Rural, project No. 6311761, a partnership between Santa Catarina State and the World Bank.

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ALH and RRBN conceived the ideas and designed the methodology; ALH, LCAP and AELB collected the data; ALH and LCAP analyzed the data; ALH, RRBN and ALGM led the writing of the manuscript; all authors contributed critically to the drafts and gave final approval for publication.

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Correspondence to Ana Lúcia Hanisch.

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Hanisch, A.L., Negrelle, R.R.B., Monteiro, A.L.G. et al. Combining silvopastoral systems with forest conservation: The caíva system in the Araucaria Forest, Southern Brazil. Agroforest Syst 96, 759–771 (2022).

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  • Agroforestry
  • Axonopus catharinensis
  • Ilex paraguariensis
  • Mixed Ombrophilous forest