What is agroforestry?

Ⓒ iStock/swisoot

By |2022-07-12T15:36:23+00:00July 11th, 2022|Biocultural Diversity, Biodiversity, Community, Indigenous Peoples, Interviews|Comments Off on What is agroforestry?

The agroecological systems of farmers, growers, and Indigenous Peoples everywhere have shaped and cared for landscapes for millennia. Ecosystems that we may perceive as pristine wildernesses are in fact culturally rich, productive, and carefully managed landscapes which have supported both people and wildlife since time immemorial thanks to the stewardship of those living there.

In this blog, Synchronicity Earth Programme Officer Pria Ghosh explores how the practice of agroforestry can increase biodiversity, provide food security and help to strengthen and spread ancestral practices for the benefit of both forests and the Indigenous Peoples and cultures that sustain them.

Guarani people and the Atlantic Forest

In the Atlantic Forest of Brazil, the Guarani people are planting their seeds. These seeds, like those planted by their ancestors, hold not only food for their communities, but the foundations of rich and resilient culture, and of the Atlantic Forest itself.

The Atlantic Forest supplies fresh water to 123 million people and is home to around five per cent of the entire world’s plant and animal biodiversity. Today though, just seven per cent of the forest remains, and what is left is clinging on in small fragments, separated by expanding industrial agriculture, mines, logging concessions, and urban sprawl. The Atlantic Forest is also the ancestral homeland of two Indigenous Peoples, the Tupi and the Guarani.

Synchronicity Earth is supporting the Guarani, through Comissão Guarani Yvyrupa, in their struggle to demarcate their ancestral territories and protect the forest.

An image of the Atlantic Forest in Brazil credit Douglas Scortegagna

Atlantic Forest in Brazil. Image Ⓒ Douglas Scortegagna CC BY 2.0

Tiago Karai, a young Guarani leader from the Tenondé Pora Indigenous land near São Paulo, explains the important relationship between their ancestral territories, their seeds, and their culture:

“Since the new boundaries’ demarcation, which recognised our rights to a much larger area, we have been able to strengthen our culture and our practices, but also recognise how much we lost when we were confined. We lost seeds. The loss of seeds meant the loss of food, sacred food, and we are only now regaining the ability to strengthen our seed stocks, our cultural knowledge, and once again protect our environment, our territory.” 

– Tiago Karaí, speaking at Synchronicity Earth event ‘Indigenous lifeways for a flourishing Earth’

On lands that the Guarani have managed according to their traditions, nearly 100 per cent of the Atlantic Forest vegetation remains. The Guarani plant sacred seeds and farm within the intact forest, and their way of life has kept the environment healthy and vibrant for generations.

“To us, nothing is separate from nature… Everything that is alive, the earth, or the elements, is a part of nature and a part of us. We are one and, in this sense, we maintain our belief as Guarani people, as Indigenous Peoples, that we must continue to fight for our land, for our territory and for our nature.”

– Kerexu Yxapyry, leader of the National Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) at Indigenous lifeways for a flourishing Earth’ event.