Agroforestry in the Netherlands

Anne Oosterbaan and Loek Kuiters have summarized the agroforestry situation in the Netherlands in the Springer book ‘Agroforestry in Europe’. They advocate agroforestry as a multi-purpose system to produce attractive landscapes, biodiversity, fruits, timber, bark and twigs, crops, recreation and other products like honey. Whilst farming originally migrated from the forest, a high rate of cultivation led to almost complete degradation of Dutch forests. To conserve what remains it was necessary with the Forest Law in 1938 to prohibit grazing within them. However, in from the early 80s grazing has been permitted in a controlled manner. One agroforestry system, which existed for a long period in the Netherlands, was growing high-branching fruit trees (boguards) with an underlayer of grass, which was either mowed or grazed by cows and sheep. But also windbreaks from trees and shrubs around small scale pastures used to be common. Unfortunately, these farming systems became less popular the last decades.

Recently there has been an increased interest in combining trees as multipurpose natural elements with agricultural activities. Research and demonstration projects have been established in different parts of the Netherlands. Walnut trees combined with pastures, fruit trees or willows combined with outside enclosures for chickens, and fodder trees for goats and cows. Several brochures with practical advise for farmers have been published by the Louis Bolk Institute www.louisbolk.org.

"Agroforestry Nederland" www.agro-forestry.nl has been established in may 2014, being the Dutch member of EURAF. Farmers, researchers and organisations with experience on agroforestry work together by this means to further promote agroforestry activities in The Netherlands and to keep informed about European policy developments.

Mark Vonk is the Dutch contact person of EURAF: mark [at] duinboeren [dot] nl