Promote Agroforestry and Soil Conservation

There are many definitions of what agroforestry is. A basic interpretation for agroforestry is: a land-use system that involves deliberate retention, introduction, or mixture of trees or other woody perennials in crops and animal production systems to take advantage of economic or ecological interactions among the components.

The Forestry Department is mandated by the Forest Act, 1996 to "promoting agroforestry programmes… for the benefit of farmers, schools and any other interested persons" and to "developing programmes for proper soil conservation". In many parts of the country, agricultural production takes place on steep to very steep slopes which have a high potential for soil erosion. Maintaining a permanent tree cover on the most erodible slopes can be an effective technique to minimise soil loss due to run-off during heavy rain events.

Agroforestry is well known and practised in Jamaica. Traditional agroforestry systems in common use are "tree home gardens", "forest tree gardens" (plots usually further away from the homestead) and "tree boundary/live fences" . The approach of the Forestry Department in agroforestry system development is to incorporate indigenous knowledge to improve the existing systems by a better match of agroforestry systems to specific sites and of agroforestry systems to species. In the latter case, recommendations of tree and shrub species have been matched to specific agroforestry and soil conservation practices. Selection of the most suitable agroforestry system has to be done on a case by case basis.

Activities undertaken by the Forestry Department to promote agroforestry include the establishment of 8 demonstration farms, 4 schools ground projects and 2 on-farm research trials as well as the distribution of timber and ornamental tree seedlings to smallholder farmers.

For additional information about agroforestry in Jamaica, go to Buff Bay/Pencar Watershed Pilot Area: Socio-Economic Study and Agroforestry Baseline Survey (April 2000)

DISCLAIMER! The Forestry Department (Ministry of Agriculture, Government of Jamaica) will use its best endeavours to ensure that all news and information provided on this Web site ( is accurate and current. However, The Forestry Department does not guarantee that all the information provided here is current and accurate and cannot be held responsible nor liable for any information provided here which proves to be inaccurate or outdated in any respect.