“The foundation of agroforestry is putting trees to work in conservation and production systems. Agroforestry begins with placing the right plant, in the right place, for the right purpose,” said Andy Mason of the U.S. Forest Service and leader of the Interagency Agroforestry Team that developed the framework with input from diverse stakeholders.

“This framework will help USDA focus its efforts on developing the highest priority science and tools while expanding its educational, training, and partnership activities so that America’s farmers, ranchers and woodland owners have the greatest opportunity to consider agroforestry for their operation.”

The Agroforestry Strategic Framework is built around three simple goals: adoption — increase the use of agroforestry by landowners and communities; science — advance the understanding of and tools for applying agroforestry; and integration — incorporate agroforestry into an all-lands approach to conservation and economic development.

Agroforestry provides benefits beyond rural areas. In rural-urban interface areas agroforestry practices can improve wildlife habitat, mitigate the movement of odors and dust, serve as noise barriers and act as filters that help keep water clean, and do “double duty” as green spaces where food and other products can be grown, while also providing a more pleasing place to work and live.

The Interagency Agroforestry Team includes representatives from five USDA agencies (U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service; Agricultural Research Service; National Institute of Food and Agriculture; and Farm Service Agency) and two key partners (National Association of State Foresters and National Association of Conservation Districts).

Those agencies, partners and others work with the USDA National Agroforestry Center, which conducts research, develops tools and coordinates training for natural resource professionals.