Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 161–180

A general classification of agroforestry practice

  • Fergus L. Sinclair

DOI: 10.1023/A:1006278928088

Cite this article as:
Sinclair, F.L. Agroforestry Systems (1999) 46: 161. doi:10.1023/A:1006278928088


Present classification schemes confuse agroforestry practices, where trees are intimately associated with agricultural components at a field scale, with the whole farm and forest systems of which they form a part. In fact, it is common for farming systems to involve the integration of several reasonably discrete agroforestry practices, on different types of land. The purpose of a general classification is to identify different types of agroforestry and to group those that are similar, thereby facilitating communication and the organized storage of information. A new scheme is proposed that uses the ‘practice’ rather than the ‘system’ as the unit of classification. This allows an efficient grouping of practices that have a similar underlying ecology and prospects for management. A two stage definition of agroforestry is proposed that distinguishes an interdisciplinary approach to land use from a set of integrated land use practices. Four levels of organization are recognized through analysis of the role of trees in agricultural landscapes: the land use system, categories of land use within systems, discrete groups of components (trees, crops, animals) managed together, and functionally connected groups of such discrete practices in time and space. Precedents for this form of analysis are found in the literature and it conforms with generally accepted methods of systems analysis. Classification of major types of agroforestry practice proceeds primarily according to the components involved and the predominant usage of land. A secondary scheme further classifies these in terms of the arrangement, density and diversity of the tree components involved.

definition description ecology landscape analysis systems analysis 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fergus L. Sinclair
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Agricultural and Forest SciencesUniversity of Wales, BangorGwyneddUK; E-mail

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