Streuobst: a traditional agroforestry system as a model for agroforestry development in temperate Europe

Author: Herzog, F.

Source: Agroforestry Systems, Volume 42, Number 1, December 1998 , pp. 61-80(20)

Publisher: Springer

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The development of agroforestry for industrialised countries can be furthered by an understanding of the history and present functioning of traditional systems. In temperate Europe, fruit trees were traditionally grown on agricultural land undersown with crops or managed grassland (Streuobst). The historical evolution of this agroforestry system has been driven by the interaction of technical progress, market development and intervention by public authorities. Streuobst reached its peak in the 1930s, but has since been in continuous decline due to the development of intensively managed dwarf-tree orchards. However, even today, it still occupies approximately one million hectares in 11 European countries and has a strong impact on the European fruit market. The profitability of Streuobst is relatively poor due to its low labour productivity, but it has advantageous ecological and socio-cultural features, particularly in terms of biological diversity and landscape aesthetics. Accordingly, it finds strong acceptance among the general public, such that subsidised eradication programs have been abandoned and, in a number of countries, Streuobst is now supported by non-governmental organisations and by state conservation policies. Modern agroforestry in temperate, industrialised countries should be oriented towards the creation of similar ecological and socio-cultural benefits inorder to receive public support as a land-use system.

Keywords: biological diversity; fruit trees; orchards; sustainable land use; temperate zone agroforestry

Document Type: Research Article


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Publication date: December 1, 1998

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