Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 61, Issue 1–3, pp 123–134 | Cite as

Forest gardens as an ‘intermediate’ land-use system in the nature–culture continuum: Characteristics and future potential

  • K.F. Wiersum


Forest gardens are reconstructed natural forests, in which wild and cultivated plants coexist, such that the structural characteristics and ecological processes of natural forests are preserved, although the species composition has been adapted to suit human needs. These agroforests include a range of modified and transformed forests, and form an integral part of local land-use systems. They lie between natural forests and tree-crop plantations in terms of their structure and composition, and low intensity of forest extraction systems and the high intensity plantation systems in terms of their management intensity. Their management is characterized by combined use of silvicultural and horticultural operations, and spatial and temporal variations. These ecologically sustainable systems are often dynamic in species composition in response to changing socioeconomic conditions. Evolved over a long period of time as a result of local community's creativity, forest gardens have still received little attention in agroforestry research, just as in the case of the more intensively domesticated homegardens. The study of forest gardens offers good opportunities for obtaining a better understanding of the ‘nature-analogous’ agroforestry systems and for developing multifunctional agroforestry systems combining production and biodiversity values.

Agroforests Ecological sustainability Forest management Landscape dynamics Social sustainability Synergy 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • K.F. Wiersum
    • 1
  1. 1.Forest and Nature Conservation Policy Group, Department of Environmental SciencesWageningen UniversityThe Netherlands

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