The miombo, the most extensive tropical woodland formation of Africa with particular ecological and economic importance, is threatened by deforestation, land degradation and loss of biodiversity. Over the past two decades, agroforestry has been studied as one of the integrated natural resource management interventions for addressing various environmental and social problems. This has helped to establish a solid knowledge-base on the functions and capabilities of agroforestry. However, little attempt has been made to synthesize and publicize the knowledge on ecosystem services provided by the various agroforestry practices in southern Africa. This has led to lack of appreciation of the environmental benefits of the practices, and hence less attention being paid to accelerating their adoption and institutionalization in national agricultural and natural resource programmes. The objective of this review was to summarize the state of current knowledge on ecosystem services of agroforestry.From the studies reviewed, it is concluded that agroforestry practices provide (1) provisioning services such as food, source of energy and fodder, (2) regulatory services including microclimate modification, erosion control, mitigation of desertification, carbon sequestration and pest control, and (3) supporting services namely, soil fertility improvement, biodiversity conservation and pollination in the miombo eco-region. The paper also outlines challenges to wider adoption of agroforestry and makes recommendations for future research, development and policy to capitalize on ecosystem services.
Key words: Biodiversity, carbon sequestration, deforestation, fire, soil erosion.
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