Trees are found in forests and outside the forest. Trees outside the forest are located in urban areas, on farms, and in natural plant formations that do not conform to the definition of forest (e.g. those in arid environments that do not meet minimum tree cover thresholds). Trees on farms (TonF) are dispersed in pastures or crop fields, in linear features (live fences, windbreaks, farm boundaries and internal divisions, on the sides of roads and watercourses), in patches or in regular plantation arrangements, solitary or in groups, with regular or variable density. Numerous studies have documented the abundance and importance of TonF to farmers’ livelihoods and to the environment. However, TonF are: 1) “invisible” to and absent from the legal/institutional/policy/value chains/education/rural extension frameworks of most countries; and 2) suboptimally designed and managed. These factors prevent farmers, the private sector, and governments from fully realizing the potential of trees on farms.
This publication shows how the advances achieved by the joint work of FTA and the Trees on Farms for Biodiversity project in Nicaragua and Honduras were used to: 1) increase the visibility of trees in live fences on cattle ranches in the Honduran national information system on forest resources, and in both national reporting systems and sectoral development programmes for the cattle ranching sector; and 2) develop the knowledge and science-based tools needed to improve the design and management of trees in the shade canopy of agroforestry systems for cocoa and coffee. Increasing the visibility of trees on farms, and mainstreaming them in public policies and development initiatives, require that salient, science-based knowledge be generated, shared and thoroughly discussed with key personnel in public institutions (Ministries of Environment, Forestry, and Agriculture) and private-sector organizations (sectoral governance platforms, financial institutions, etc.), and included in educational (national universities, extension service, and farmer field schools) and reporting systems.