“Agroforestry” is a term not recognized by agricultural producers and decision-makers in Poland. The extent of agroforestry in Poland is also not known. However, Trees outside Forests (ToF) are considered as an important element of environmental policy, including midfield trees.
Despite this, there is no clear definition for ToF in the country. Shelterbelts systems in Wielkopolskie province and riparian buffers are well known in Poland. There are a number of different social actions aimed at planting trees in rural areas carried out by NGO (FER, Klub Gaja) or Landscape Parks (e.g. in Wielkopolskie province Landscape Parks Complex) and research studies related to trees on farming lands (e.g. Ryszkowski 2001; Orłowski and Nowak 2007; Zajączkowski and Zajączkowski 2009; Kędziora et al. 2012).
Some initiatives are focused on planting old traditional varieties of fruit trees (e.g. projects of AgriNatura Foundation or Aeris Futuro Foundation), of which some are used for silvopastoral use. Slow development of extensive farming of beef cattle is observed, in some cases related to sustainable use of wooded grasslands, and introduction of hedgerows or orchard grazing. We can find frequently sheep and goats grazing on wooded pastures. At last, initiatives with alley cropping systems appear (Juchowo Farm Foundation, North Poland). In 2018, EIP operational group on agroforestry has been launched. The group is focused on the sustainable combined production of fruit shrubs and herbs.
The Polish Agroforestry Association has been established in 2015 and counts 30 members. Most of them are researchers, several are farmers. The association organizes annual meetings and workshops.
Beef Cattle Farmers Association “Pastwisko” was established in 2018 and intends to promote and develop silvopastoral systems in Beskid Niski mountains.
There are a number of organizations, dealing with the planting and management of trees in rural areas, but they do not consider themselves agroforestry organizations.
Organic Agriculture Forum gathering organic farming experts supports policy of developing agroforestry in the country.
Within the 2023-2027 CAP Strategic Plan Policy, financial support is provided for in-field trees outside the forest (field windbreaks and copses) and agroforestry as optional measures for farmers interested in afforestation.
1). establishment of field windbreaks and copses
Establishment of one afforested complex, constituting compact bound surface economically and environmentally, meeting the following rules:
• an area of ​​at least 0.1 ha and not more than 0.5 ha, and
• width of at least 4 m and not more than 20 m
– only native species of trees or shrubs should be planted, including species significantly improving biodiversity or melliferous species;
– the species composition of plantings should be dominated by deciduous species, i.e. at least 90%, provided that habitat conditions allow for that;
– the planting should be carried out with at least 3 different species or types of trees or shrubs, except that the share of trees or shrubs of the least numerous species or genus among the three the most numerous is at least 10%;
– the species composition will be adjusted to the habitat, environmental and climatic conditions of the area in question;
– a detailed list of species and types of trees and shrubs for this intervention is defined in national legislation;
the number of seedlings of trees or shrubs will amount to approx. 1,500-2,500 plants/ha;
– the farmer will be able to consult the planned tree cover with an agricultural advisor, specialized in this regard.
2). establishment of agroforestry systems
The measure is the only official support for agroforestry in Poland, as agroforestry systems are legally qualified as “arable land or permanent grassland meeting the conditions defined for Intervention 10.13 “establishment of agroforestry systems””.
Arable land and grassland will be eligible for support (excluding grassland in Natura 2000 areas), where an agroforestry system will be implemented:
– at least 3 different species or types of trees or shrubs, among which deciduous species predominate;
on arable land in alley form or on grassland in the silvopastoral form in any arrangement of trees;
by planting 150 to 250 trees or shrubs per 1 ha;
– trees or shrubs in the agroforestry system shall be protected against damage with shelters or 3 stakes or sheep wool or repellents.
Both measures could receive a 5-year premium in order to compensate for maintenance costs of intervention (Premium for maintenance of forest, of field windbreaks and copses and of agroforestry). Organic farms shall be excluded from the above support for agroforestry establishment.
Overall, there is still little knowledge about agroforestry among experts and practitioners. Physical conditions are difficult for farming in Poland: in the majority of farms with poor soil quality, low size and high fragmentation of farms/parcels. This restricts agroforestry to marginal areas, and large fields in more agroforestry-friendly farms.