Basic Principles

Principles of Dynamic (Successional) Agroforestry Systems

Vital processes are very dynamic and they are subject to a permanent flow of energy, water and nutrients. In nature these processes happen all the time, allowing for the development of dynamic and stable life systems. Due to their particular climate, topography and soil, humid tropical forests are home to diverse forms of flora and fauna that respond perfectly to the particularities of these regions. The regeneration, recovery and renovation of these systems take place through succession processes. Within these processes each species occupies, for a certain period of time, a given space in which it contributes, with its particular capacity, to improve and to optimize its conditions, as well as those of the members of its consortium, to grow prosper and to reproduce. As time passes each species - by performing its functions- creates the necessary conditions for the development of another (more demanding) species, ensuring that the energy, water and nutrient dynamics are maintained. As a result nature creates more and more complex systems which results in more diverse forms (Götsch, E. 1994; Milz, J. 2002; Milz, J. 2006; Schulz, B. 1994; Schulz, B. 1994).

"By understanding and taking advantage of the principles underlying natural succession we achieve an abundant agricultural and forest production without using chemicals or struggling against "diseases" and "pests".

One of the most important measures for the improvement and maintenance of soil fertility in dynamic agroforestry production systems is the continuous addition of woody (ligneous) organic material, of which large amounts become available every year as a result of pruning measures (Lemieux, G. 1996; Caron, C. 1996).

"Agroecology is a knowledge-intensive approach. It requires public policies supporting agricultural research and participative extension services….States and donors have a key role to play here. Private companies will not invest time and money in practices that cannot be rewarded by patents and which don’t open markets for chemical products or improved seeds." (Schütter de, O. 2011).