Agroforestry delivers a win-win solution for ecosystem services in sub-Saharan Africa. A meta-analysis

Kuyah, Shem
Whitney, Cory W.
Jonsson, Mattias
Sileshi, Gudeta W.
Öborn, Ingrid
Muthuri, Catherine W.
Luedeling, Eike
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Springer Nature
Agricultural landscapes are increasingly being managed with the aim of enhancing the provisioning of multiple ecosystem services and sustainability of production systems. However, agricultural management that maximizes provisioning ecosystem services can often reduce both regulating and maintenance services. We hypothesized that agroforestry reduces trade-offs between provisioning and regulating/maintenance services. We conducted a quantitative synthesis of studies carried out in sub-Saharan Africa focusing on crop yield (as an indicator of provisioning services), soil fertility, erosion control, and water regulation (as indicators of regulating/maintenance services). A total of 1106 observations were extracted from 126 peer-reviewed publications that fulfilled the selection criteria for meta-analysis of studies comparing agroforestry and non-agroforestry practices (hereafter control) in sub-Saharan Africa. Across ecological conditions, agroforestry significantly increased crop yield, total soil nitrogen, soil organic carbon, and available phosphorus compared to the control. Agroforestry practices also reduced runoff and soil loss and improved infiltration rates and soil moisture content. No significant differences were detected between the different ecological conditions, management regimes, and types of woody perennials for any of the ecosystem services. Main trade-offs included low available phosphorus and low soil moisture against higher crop yield. This is the first meta-analysis that shows that, on average, agroforestry systems in sub-Saharan Africa increase crop yield while maintaining delivery of regulating/maintenance ecosystem services. We also demonstrate how woody perennials have been managed in agricultural landscapes to provide multiple ecosystem services without sacrificing crop productivity. This is important in rural livelihoods where the range of ecosystem services conveys benefits in terms of food security and resilience to environmental shocks.
© The Author(s) 2019. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Version of Scholarly Record of this Article is published in Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 2019, available online at: . Keywords: available phosphorus; infiltration; runoff; soil erosion; soil organic carbon; soil moisture content; trade-off.
Kuyah, S., Whitney, C.W., Jonsson, M. et al. Agroforestry delivers a win-win solution for ecosystem services in sub-Saharan Africa. A meta-analysis. Agron. Sustain. Dev. 39, 47 (2019).