Temperate food forests: quantifying ecosystem service delivery by this emerging agroforestry system to evaluate its potential as a multifunctional land use

01 November 2022 → 31 October 2024
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Soil ecology
    • Conservation and biodiversity
    • Ecosystem services
    • Soil chemistry
  • Agricultural and food sciences
    • Silviculture and agroforestry
ecosystem multifunctionality ecosystem services food forests
Project description

This project responds to the urgent need for more research evaluating the potential of the increasingly popular temperate food forests, in terms of their delivery of key ecosystem services (ESS) and their multifunctionality. In an extensive observational study, we will quantify indicators of the ESS biodiversity support, pollination, natural pest control, nutrient cycling and carbon storage in 15 food forests, and nearby croplands, grasslands and forests functioning as reference sites. This analysis will enable us to position the performance of the food forests in delivering these ESS, and the variability therein, relative to these reference land uses. Additionally, the food production potential of the 15 food forests will be quantified in terms of biomass and energy yield and productivity, but also in terms of nutritional output. These yield measures will then be compared to those of more conventional food production systems. Based on the values for the evaluated ESS and on a weighting of these services by different stakeholder groups, we will calculate the multifunctionality of the investigated food forests. For each of the ESS and the multifunctionality, we will also investigate whether differences in performance between food forests can be related to differences in design or management and our findings in this respect can underlie policy and management recommendations.