The potential for agroforestry in Ireland

  • Jim McAdam
Keywords: Silvopasture, Silvopastoral systems, silvoarable, climate resilience, ecosystem services


Agroforestry, where trees are combined with crops and/or animals on the same unit of land to deliver significant economic and environmental benefits, is currently little practiced in Ireland. Evidence is presented for the ecosystem services which agroforestry, and more specifically silvopastoral, systems can deliver to help address current challenges in the agricultural and forestry sectors—air, soil and water quality; biodiversity; greenhouse gas emissions; climate change mitigation obligations; and tree cover targets, while helping to support family farm viability and market access. A summary is given of research findings from the research programme at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute’s field station at Loughgall, Co. Armagh. A series of proposals is presented on how agroforestry is applicable to, and could be implemented in, the agriculture, forestry and environmental sectors. Agroforestry aligns well with EU as well as national governments’ policies and objectives for more sustainable land use and climate resilience. Currently agroforestry is supported under a forestry measurein Ireland and an agricultural (agri-environment) measure in Northern Ireland. While both are stimulating interest, they do have drawbacks. For a more flexible approach to accommodate the particular nature of agroforestry and the multifunctional outputs it can deliver, it is proposed that agroforestry should be supported as an agricultural and forestry measure on both parts of the island. Given the growing interest in agroforestry, a clear need has been identified for adissemination hub of tailored information, and an Irish Agroforestry Forum has been formed.
How to Cite
McAdam, J. (2020) “The potential for agroforestry in Ireland”, Irish Forestry, 77(1&2), pp. 113-135. Available at: (Accessed: 29May2024).
Forest Perspectives