Systematic Literature Review: Tree-based farming systems can be a win-win for people and nature

Fruit and timber trees scattered within maize fields in Mulanje District, Malawi (photo credit: Emilie Vansant)

A new paper was published in People & Nature by Emilie Vansant in collaboration with a team of scientists at CIFOR-ICRAF. The study reviews literature linking tree-based farming systems and dietary quality in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The synthesis of 36 studies finds:

  1. Maintaining trees in and around farmland – and using these trees for both the direct provision of foods and as a source of income – can serve as a key strategy for households to diversify food consumption and improve dietary quality.
  2. How much a tree-based farming system can influence diets is dependent on policies and institutions at the national scale, bioclimatic and geographical factors at the landscape scale, as well as socioeconomic factors at both the landscape and household levels.
  3. Indigenous populations practicing traditional forms of tree-based farming (which are often diverse systems integrated with wild landscapes) seem to maintain high levels of dietary quality through sourcing food from both wild and cultivated areas

The existing evidence, though limited, points at important knowledge gaps – namely the lack of a typology of tree-based farming systems to facilitate objective comparisons across cultural and geographical contexts. Additionally, there is a paucity of research that explicitly examines the role of non-forest trees in influencing dietary quality. By recognizing the potential of trees to contribute to positive nutritional outcomes in rural communities, this study supports the development of nutritionally-sensitive landscapes in LMICs.

Promotion of the article in CIFOR’s Forest News blog:

Read the full article here.

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