Silvopasture in the Caatinga biome of Brazil: A review of its ecology, management, and development opportunities

Felipe M. Pinheiro, P. K. Ramachandran Nair

Abstract


Aim of study: Silvopastoral system (SPS) involving numerous indigenous trees and shrubs is a traditional land-use system in the Caatinga, but it has little been studied scientifically. Given the importance of SPS as a sustainable land-use strategy in the drylands, this paper examines the attributes of the Caatinga SPS and their relevance to other arid and semiarid regions.

Area of study: Caatinga biome, with an area of 0.9 million km2 and a population of 25 million, a unique dryland ecosystem of Brazil.

Materials and methods: The paper reviewed the literature on the main characteristics of SPS management of the Caatinga biome and the global perspectives of silvopastoral land-management in semiarid regions.

Main results: Guidelines for sustainable SPS management of the Caatinga include maintaining up to 400 trees/ha (40% tree cover) and allowing at least 40% of the available forage to dry up to provide mulch for soil protection. Opportunities for improving the low carrying capacity of the Caatinga are thinning, coppicing, and enrichment planting with desirable tree and understory species. Establishment of fodder banks, promotion of non-conventional feed sources such as cactus, and introduction of grazing animals to orchards and plantations are some other promising interventions.

Research highlights: The review highlights the importance of initiating new studies on Caatinga SPS, focusing on the role and potential of various native species and the ecosystem services they provide, in conjunction with relevant social, economic, and policy aspects to better exploit the benefits of the system and facilitate its wider adoption.


Keywords


agroforestry; arid and semiarid lands; ecosystem management; fodder trees; food security; livestock production

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References


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DOI: 10.5424/fs/2018271-12267

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