Agrosilvopastoral systems: a win-win strategy for tropical Mexico

Marinés de la Peña Domene

Worldwide, animal agriculture is the leading cause of habitat destruction, species extinction, and a large contributor to greenhouse emissions. Conversely, it represents the main economic activity of many rural communities. We are faced with an immense challenge; to maintain biodiversity and people’s livelihoods.

Loss of native habitat affects biodiversity but also impacts agricultural production by degrading ecosystem services. Tree patches provide ecosystem services with indirect effects on cattle production. Integrating fruiting trees in the productive system promotes inter-fragment migration of many plant and animals species. Comparative studies in the neotropics have shown that silvopastoral systems (agroforestry arrangements that combine grasses with shrubs and trees for animal nutrition and complementary uses) may reach production levels equal to or higher than conventional grazing systems, but provide a longer lifespan for productive lands.

Through this project, we will test how combining silvopastoral systems as the matrix of fruit-baring planted patches into agrosilvopastoral systems (ASPS) may assist in improving the livelihoods of low-economy cattle ranchers in the tropics as well as maintaining landscape connectivity, ecosystem services and conserving species from the tropical rain-forest. Additionally, ASPS will provide landscape complexity that will result in more resilient systems in the face of climate change.

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