World experts in agroforestry are going to meet in Brno 

1. 11. 2023
European agriculture struggles with climate change, the decline of insects and birds in the landscape, pollution and the desire to improve human health. Agroforestry, the growing of trees together with crop or livestock production, is a proven way to maintain food production and at the same time face these problems. Well-designed agroforestry systems adapted to local conditions can also improve biodiversity and ecosystem services in the landscape. Despite the interest of farmers and politicians, the adoption of agroforestry is currently challenging. An international conference which will be held at Mendel University in Brno at the end of May aims to address the challenges of agroforestry adoption. This major European agroforestry event is taking part in the Czech Republic for the first time.

Agroforestry in the Czech Republic is gaining strength, there are many farms where agroforestry can be the cornerstone of agricultural development and at the same time can improve the farm’s resistance to climate change. “Currently, agroforestry is developing rapidly in the Czech Republic and scientists, farmers themselves and politicians are interested in it. The proof is also that measures to support agroforestry were launched this year as a part of our strategic plan of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy,” said Bohdan Lojka, chairman of the scientific commission of the conference.

We have to recognize our agricultural landscapes as living, integral parts of our ecosystems – and that our food production systems should cooperate with nature, and not work against it. When we understand this, we also start to explore the multiple ways agroforestry can contribute to a greener agriculture and rural development. I feel that our strength is our network – different views, different backgrounds, different circumstances. We have to work on this together,“ stated Judit Csikvári, president of the European Agroforestry Federation (EURAF). The organization has more than 600 members in 23 European countries and aims to promote the adoption of agroforestry practices throughout Europe. 

The conference will cover both research and practice. Opportunities and challenges in applying trees to agriculture will be solved. Experts from all over the world will discuss in thematic sessions, workshops will offer participants new experiences and impulses on how agroforestry can diversify production, improve soil health and biodiversity in Europe. “The main goal is to assert and show that the cultivation of woody plants on agricultural land can not only have many positive environmental benefits, but mainly that woody plants can also represent an interesting production alternative for farmers. We are solving what types of trees, how and where to grow them on agricultural land and how to integrate them into our model of intensive agriculture,” described Lojka, according to him farmers show an increasing interest in this possible alternative.

There will be speakers not only from Europe, but also from America and Australia at the conference. “My colleagues and I tried to invite the best experts and practitioners from all over the world to the conference. For example, I am looking forward to the lectures and discussion with Kevin Walz and Michael Gold from the United States or Rowen Raid from Australia, who have many years of scientific but also practical experience with agroforestry from their countries. Joachim Milz from Germany will talk about his experiences with dynamic agroforestry, and other European practitioners such as Jo Smith from Portugal, Stephen Briggs from Great Britain and Adolfo Rosati from Italy will share their experiences with all of us. The icing on the cake will be the contributions of Christian Dupraz from France, who for me is the father of European agroforestry, and Patrick Worms from Belgium, president of the International Agroforestry Union,” Lojka listed.

The European Agroforestry Conference will be held in Brno from May 27 to 31, 2024. It is organized by the Czech Agroforestry Association as a branch of the European Agroforestry Federation (EURAF) in cooperation with Mendel University in Brno and other partners who have signed Memorandum of Cooperation on the organization of the conference , i.e. the South Moravian Region and the Statutory City of Brno. The technical part of the organization will be provided by AIM Group International agency. The event has been sponsored by the Minister of Agriculture, the Minister of the Environment, the Governor of the South Moravian Region, the Mayor of Brno and the Rector of Mendel University in Brno.

Contact for more information: prof. Ing. Bohdan Lojka, Ph.D., + 420 734 170 763,, Fakulta tropického zemědělství, Česká zemědělská univerzita v Praze

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