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Climate change and vulnerability of agroforestry

Providing a detailed picture of the value of trees for local people in the tropics is a difficult undertaking. Not only does this represent the difficulty in accounting for values outside formal markets, but it also reflects the multiplicity of the species involved and the many different ways in which trees are used. In these circumstances, one approach that can b used to gain insight is to focus on a narrower range of species such as tree commodity crops commonly grown by smallholders, where more data on economic value are available. Another method can be employed to provide an overview of uses is to search and summarise information from online databases.

This World Agroforestry working paper demonstrates the application of online databases in this context by considering ICRAF's open access Agroforestree Database (AFTD). The analysis was based on 10 important tree functions and six geographic regions. Compilation revealed that the most frequent use listed in the AFTD was for timber production, followed by medicine and then fuel (primary woodfuel). Many species were indicated to have multiple uses, based on the number of mentions summed across functions in any one region compared to the total number of species in the database. Results indicated that local people in large parts of the tropics rely on a wide range of both indigenous and exotic tree species, overall in approximately equal proportions, to meet their needs for various products and services.