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Agroforestry to assist forest restoration in the dry Bolivian Andes

Large-scale clearing of native forests has tremendously affected the ecological functioning of tropical landscapes. Agroforestry (AF) - the integration of tree and crops species within the same land-unit - is one of the most promising approaches to restore degraded tropical landscapes while at the same time allowing landowners to overcome financial obstacles associated with conventional restoration activities. By including different plant functional groups, AF systems achieve higher diversity than conventional agricultural crops or tree plantations alone, and much research has been conducted on interactions between trees and crops. However, we still lack systematic knowledge about relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF) in tropical AF-systems. Therefore, we developed an experimental design for the first BEF experiment for agroforestry systems:


The aim of this project is to establish an agroforestry-biodiversity experiment to identify which combination of trees and edible plants are best suited to facilitate forest restoration while at the same time meliorating the soil in order to ensure its productivity in times of climate change to avoid migration of local farmers.

The location of the project is on the property of the Mollesnejta research farm in a semiarid Valley of the Bolivian Andes, located nearby the Tunari National Park, which was completely deforested in the 1960s. For more than 20 years, experiments with agroforestry have been carried out in Mollesnejta and the experiences have been passed on to NGOs and small farmers from the regions. So far, results are based on experimental plots of relatively small size and so far it is not clear which combination of trees and edible plants are most promising. Therefore, this project is designed in way that will allow us to scale-up the results to make them most useful for farmers. To this end, we will plant native trees and other edible crop species (Date Palms, Apples, Indian Figs) that are preferred by the local community and by assembling species in a way that allows us to assess the benefits of biodiversity on ecosystem services generated by our agroforestry systems. With this project we aim to become a model for the entire region or even for other regions with similar environmental problems.

 Projetc Homepage at TreeDivNet: treedivnet.ugent.be/ExpBEFAgroforestry.html

Researcher:Dr.Julia Schwarz
Partner:Dr. Noemi Stadler-Kaulich / Forschungsstation Mollesnejta in Bolivien   =>https://mollesnejta.org

Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft (BMEL)

Duration: 10/2022 - 09/2023


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