The ASAP project is designed to present a multidisciplinary approach to the examination of agroforestry systems (AFS) in southern Africa. Nine working packages (WPs) are divided into three thematic areas:
1. Knowledge transfer and educational transmission;
2. Ecosystem services and environmental benefits, and;
3. Human-environment interactions.
Education and Demonstration
Leader: UP (South Africa)
Deputy leader: IWG (Germany)
A primary goal for the ASAP project is the impartment of educational aspects. The project is working in trans-disciplinary fields, and is therefore, appropriate for a wide range of study programmes. Project work will be transmitted within both new and existing teaching curricula in all partner countries and will be closely linked with the education of students and early stage researchers in the form of theses (Bachelor, Master and PhD level), internships and as part of modular teaching programmes.
A summer school and final lecture tour in Southern Africa will also take place in the latter stages of the project. The establishment of demonstration sites showcasing options and good management practice as a tool for teaching is a fundamental part of the project and will form a long-lasting project legacy.
Collaboration and Exchange
Leader: CFG (Germany)
Deputy leader: SU (South Africa)
Collaboration builds a solid ground for all the pillars in ASAP. Research sites selection is highly dependent on key institutions, communities, land owners, technicians and other partners willing to cooperate in the project's frame, therefore, making ASAP feasible.
Knowledge exchange and delivery of project results will take place with the promotion of conferences and workshops, through the ASAP website and internal newsletter. At different project's stages, workshops will be highly appreciated for sharing of methodologies and techniques between partners, creating an awareness about the projects "big-picture" and associated follow-up steps.
Development of research and training capacity for students and academic staff is in the core of ASAP. Exchange of academic researchers will be facilitated. Exchange visits may provide useful insights into challenges and solutions, and facilitate discussions with local experts.
Leader: SASSCAL (Namibia)
Deputy leader: ZALF (Germany)
Science-Science and Science-Praxis knowledge transfer is a key component of the ASAP project and output will be aimed at a wide target audience. Key to such knowledge transfer, acting as a regional coordination and networking facility, SASSCAL is mandated and equipped to effectively communicate science-based ASAP outcomes to the various user groups in the economic, political, scientific, and public spheres, and thus contribute to sustainable development in the region.
Utilizing its in-country and regional networks, SASSCAL will support ASAP in knowledge transfer and marketing, advising policy and economy stakeholders establishing Private-Public-Policy-Partnerships interactions, the transfer of research outcomes into demand-driven services. Formats such as cross-sectoral regional, workshops, stakeholder forums, conference side events and exhibitions conducted by and with local specialists accompanying prepared and targeted guidelines for farmers, land owners, commercial operators, consultants, NGOs and legislative and governmental organisations, will take place. By this, the Science-Policy dialogue in the region will be further strengthened through feasible instruments established by both previous and ASAP consortium activities.
Leader: CFG (Germany)
Deputy leader: ZALF (Germany)
One particular ecosystem service related to agroforestry systems (AFS) is the carbon sequestration in the form of woody biomass. Trees, agricultural crops, grasses, shrubs and bushes all grow in AFS, all actively sequester carbon from the air, transforming it into plant tissues. In AFS, an active and developed vegetation cover also benefits the wider ecosystem, such as by avoiding the release of carbon from the soil and organic matter to the atmosphere, expanding the soil volume explored by roots, and cooling down landscapes at all spatial scales.
Assessing the carbon sequestration potential of AFS requires the study of carbon partitioning in each system (i.e. carbon stocks above and belowground). Trees must be assessed in terms of their architecture, volume and biomass (tree measurements, terrestrial laser scanning technology, allometric biomass modelling) in the most precise way, as carbon is assumed to comprise 50% of dry woody biomass. In the soils (belowground), carbon sequestration potential is assessed through site- and land-use specific surveys on soil carbon stocks. Moreover, knowing which tree species are appropriated for a certain agroforestry system (in terms of growth, climate adaptation and resilience, interaction with other crops, etc.) is also crucial to ensure the permeance of long-term environmental benefits.
Erosion and Hydrological Processes
Leader: IBK (Germany)
Deputy leader: ZALF (Germany)
Soil erosion is a main cause for land degradation in Southern Africa. The region is particularly affected by climate change and as most people depend on subsistence agriculture, loss of fertile crop production area has an adverse impact on livelihood and food security. Agroforestry practices were shown to decrease soil erosion in other parts of the world and could play an important role as a climate change adaption and mitigation strategy in Southern Africa.
Thus, general aim of WP 5 is to assess the effectivity of Agroforestry systems to decrease soil erosion compared to conventional farming. We will conduct a soil survey and analyse different soil properties influencing soil erodibility. Vulnerable soil types for erosion will be identified. We will measure wind erosion on bare fields during dry season and dust deposition in front and behind shelter belts. Furthermore we will trace and detect water redistribution and possible limitations in multiuse landscapes by measuring hydraulic properties. Finally we will investigate soil erosion mechanisms within Agroforestry systems. Knowledge transfer and shared equipment between different research institutions will foster a more comprehensive picture of erosion generation and will help to develop strategies. Results will be linked to soil nutrient availability and carbon sequestration in Agroforestry systems.
Leader: CEBra (Germany)
Deputy leader: ICRAF (Malawi)
The analysis of the environmental interactions between trees and crops of typical existing and potential AFS is crucial for the development of site-specific design. Comprehensive ecophysiological investigations and innovative microclimatic sensor technologies will be set up along the environmental gradients from the tree to open areas. The integrated analysis will enable the determination of the spatial variance of crop stress index and growth performance in relation to the AFS. Interactions between the individual abiotic and biotic components may affect the others and a compromise must be reached largely within three areas: light, water and nutrient.
Under southern African climate conditions, the reduction of crop water demand is most important for the tree-crop interaction. Key drivers are wind speed and energy balances. Reduced heat stress is important factor with positive effects of crops and animals. Shade cast by the tree component will be assessed using both standard and innovative methodologies and related to the analysis of microclimatic heat and energy balances on the ground. Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a unique combination of multispectral sensor and infra-red thermography sensor will obtain information about the spatial distribution of surface heat and plant vitality. Short-term and spatial data will be analysed to provide scientific-based recommendation for farmers and stakeholders to establish AFS.
Leader: RAISON (Namibia)
Deputy leader: CEBra (Germany)
Land-use changes and increasing demands of lands for agriculture is a major threat for biodiversity worldwide. The development of multifunctional agricultural landscapes has to be holistic to support different needs of the society and be able to balance ecosystem services. A key challenge for implementing sustainable and resilient agroforestry systems is the integration of biodiversity and habitat protection. WP7 will document the most important biodiversity components of AFS’s at a range of sites, in particular those components that provide, or might provide the greatest services and benefits to local people. Best-practices agroforestry promoting biodiversity protection will be analysed and include for the development of management plans. Biodiversity assessment will be carried out in selected case studies to investigate the implication of AFS on biodiversity from the plot to the farm level.
A special focus will be on woody species that are abundant and/or socio-ecologically important in terms of AFS. A baseline of present tree species in the specific target areas, their number and abundance, ages, and related management practices, e.g. which trees are retained in agricultural lands and how this decision is realised by the land users. Invasive, alien trees are of major concern for natural southern African ecosystems and their implication for sustainable AFS will be evaluated.
Leader: SU (South Africa)
Deputy leader: CFG (Germany)
Core to the concept of AFS is the ability to produce multiple products from the same land holding, the development of best practice management and decision support systems in order to derive a defined product or set of products is paramount. Studying existing successful combinations, simultaneously the project will suggest modifications and trade-offs to traditional agricultural methods to allow for the inclusion of trees.
WP8 is concerned with the management of farm trees and the effects of tree management systems on tree-derived products and ecosystem services. The work will focus on two widely differing study areas within Southern Africa: i) Mediterranean climate and dry sections of the all-year rainfall zone in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. ii) A moderately dry, warm temperate (bushland and savannah region) with seasonal (summer) rainfall maximum as found in in Limpopo Province, South Africa, Central Mozambique, Northern Namibia and Central Zambia.
Contrasts between tree clusters belonging to different taxa, varying stand density and differences in site and stand conditions will assist in making improvements in matching planted taxa with site conditions, and to make recommendations on management operations to produce a specific range of products and ecosystem services.
Social and Economic Impacts
Leader: IFP (Germany)
Deputy leader: NBRI (Namibia)
Since the inception of AFS in the 1970s, the political and social dimensions of the concept remain of importance for its development and institutionalization. Work Package 9 (WP9) develops a multi-level analytical approach, which allows for a collaborative comparative analysis of the national contexts and regional local implementation of AFS in several countries in southern Africa (South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, Namibia). The aim is to study, first, the social and political impacts / effects of AFS at local and regional levels and, second, the policies, institutions, instruments, and political contexts informing AFS at national levels. The selection of case study regions and national case studies is closely aligned with other WPs to ensure a close collaborative knowledge transfer and interdisciplinary exchange with other working packages and scientific disciplines. Eventually, WP9 will analyse heterogeneous national contexts, representing varying arrangements of policies, institutions, legal frameworks, and economic incentives (e.g. funding schemes).
WP9 aims to assess the social, political, and economic contexts guiding the establishment of AFS policies and the effects of utilising trees within agricultural land. It will critically examine the consequences of the use of trees within agricultural land on rural societies, people, and livelihoods in the case study regions. Thus, the WP9 establishes a strongly collaborative interdisciplinary study, strengthened through academic and scientific exchange between the research group in Freiburg and several partners. WP9 is designed to provide significant interdisciplinary exchange, wide-ranging dissemination of results among target audiences, and meaningful outreach to political processes regarding AFS in southern Africa.
Leader: CFG (Germany)
A dedicated position that is concentrated on the administrative and financial management of the project is the Project Coordinator (PC). Such coordination includes: day-to-day management and organization of activities through active planning. Both needed for a successful execution of the project.
The PC will oversee the proper and efficient documentation of the project, data management, information transfer and knowledge exchange, while ensuring the project remains consistent in its goals. The PC will also manage unexpected situations and resolve problems that potentially arise during the course of the project.