Agroforestry, or “farm forestry” as it is more often called these days, is the integration of productive trees into the agricultural landscape.
While the benefits of trees to agriculture, the environment and our sense of well-being are well known, the ability of properly planned, established and managed trees to contribute significantly to farm incomes is often not appreciated.
Whilst government support for farm forestry has recently dropped dramatically, local and national groups are getting on with the job of supplying environmentally responsible timber in a climate where access to native forests is becoming more restricted. Markets for environmental services, especially carbon, are rapidly emerging.
World timber demand is generally expected to exceed supply over the next 20 years, so industry in Australia is currently working to dramatically increase our plantation area.
Although the figure is dropping slowly, Australia continues to run annual deficits of almost $2 billion in forest products, so there's ample opportunity for import replacement.
Farm forestry can make a significant contribution to this target, especially if farm foresters organise themselves into local groups with regional and national affiliations. To further the cause in Gippsland we have the Gippsland Agroforestry Network, Farm Forest Growers, Victoria., and Australian Forest Growers respectively.