Agroforestry in North Temperate Regions

Today's food production faces significant environmental, production and existential challenges in a reality where the climate crisis and population growth only seem to go one way. A change of the way we practise agriculture is imminent, but in what direction should we develop? Certainly, our narrow focus on efficient production must be broadened to also include the preservation of important ecosystem services. Current research argues that perennial intercropping systems such as agroforestry can be a viable alternative (Björklund, Eksvard and Schaffer, 2019). Therefore, it is relevant in this project to investigate and respond to:

  • What challenges today's food production faces now and in the future
  • The history of agroforestry in general
  • What efforts are being made to promote agroforestry propagation
  • What types of forestry are there?
  • What overall beneficial effects can agroforestry systems contribute with
  • What agroforestry systems exist in countries with conditions like the ones in Denmark
  • Which tree species are involved
  • What designs are repeated
  • Which agroforestry systems have the greatest potential in Denmark
  • What factors influence the conversion to agroforestry in Denmark


Thus, the project does not respond to the potential expanding in countries with climatic zones and agricultural sectors unlike the Danish one. Economic and legal aspects of agroforestry will not be explored here.
The beneficial effects of forestry are of secondary priority, so a thorough analysis is not made in this area. The potential of a system is assessed based on its general aspects. The countries involved are Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, UK, Poland, Latvia, Ireland, Northern France and Belgium. Data collection on 3 of the 5 types has been of secondary priority, here: forests, forestry agriculture and buffer zones, shelters and belts. It has been the preconceived opinion in this project that silvopastoral and silvoarable systems are the most interesting types, assessed from a survey of Danish agriculture. With a dominant form of farming that is highly mechanized and rationalized, these two forestry systems fit well here. The potential for conversion of Danish farms to forest farming systems is assessed based on the results of the available data and available literature. Information on Danish agriculture and agroforestry in northern temperate regions has been sparse and difficult to access, which has affected the results.
The method has been predominantly literature search, data search and a few interviews with experts in the field of forestry in Denmark. The literature was acquired through various article databases from the Royal Library.
A filtration process followed, and only the most relevant sources are included. The interviews were conducted with questions and answers over the phone and via e-mails. The data were collected in a table, which is found in Appendix 10. A GPS-Europe map was put together, as well as charts and tables based on the collected data.
The literature draws a picture of agriculture being challenged by having to feed an increasing number of people, and at the same time having to produce sustainably. Climate change, changing diets, inappropriate farming practices, climatic extremes and lack of pollination are some of the problems our food production faces today and in future.
Agroforestry has played a great role in world culture and agri-history but has had to give way to modern industrialized farming methods. In light of the challenges of modern farming methods and the beneficial effects of agroforestry, agroforestry is increasingly emerging in the West and the rest of the world. Agroforestry has also proved to be relevant here in Denmark, as consumer forecasts point to a market of growth in sustainable food, as organizations are working to get forestry widely used in Denmark, and in the EU and the upcoming CAP is planning a green transition.

Agroforestry has proved to have beneficial effects, among other things. Within the environment, climate, biodiversity, soil conservation, economic stability and animal welfare.
Silvopastoral and silvoarable systems are well suited to Danish agriculture in relation to the conversion rate, and as long as the farmer can find a marked for the products of the trees. Forest farming is difficult to say much about, as it has not yet been estimated how widespread it is in Europe, and here Denmark it is not very widespread in spite of large private forest areas. Danish shelters, belts and the already established field stripes and border zones are an element in Danish agriculture, and if future policy makes this type of system profitable, then there is a potential for an increase here (including buffer zones). Forestry systems are well suited for self-sufficiency and hobby farming but have yet to prove their lucrative properties before it is something that Danish farmers focused on economic benefits will adopt.