AGROFORESTRY in SWEDEN
Traditionally, the main agroforestry systems in Sweden were silvopastoral systems, where animals such as cattle, sheep and goats were grazed in the extensive forests. Historically, these areas were commonly owned and free-ranged, whereas meadows and cultivated areas and villages were private and fenced. This agroforestry system was a prerequisite for the farm household economy and a source of many resources. Trees and shrubs were used for food, feed, fuel, wood and construction material. Charcoal, potash and tar were also produced. Bark, leaves and nuts from oak (Quercus robur), hazel (Corylus avellana) and beech (Fagus sylvatica) and berries were important food products. The animals grazing had a large impact on the structure and composition of the forests. The densities of trees and bushes varied due to grazing pressure and local ecological conditions, ranging from dense to nearly open. Coppicing or pollarding of leaves and branches was used for winter fodder.
The system of summer farms has also been important for the agricultural expansion and economy in the Mid to Northern parts of Sweden from 1500 to 1850. These systems comprised free grazing in mountainous areas for cattle, sheep and goats kept for meat, milk cheese and butter production. Animals were moved to the farm in early summer and part of the farming family stayed on the site during the summer. The work at the summer farms was often organized cooperatively in the villages and young girls or women were employed for the activity. Today these activities are appreciated mainly for their cultural and natural values, and the management is supported by subsidies in the CAP. There are about 250 summer farms in Sweden today, using approximately 15 000 ha and about 3 000 heads of goats, sheep and cows are kept. The system of summer farms in Sweden and Norway has recently (2023) been nominated to the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Reindeer husbandry is another traditional land use practice used by the Sami people in Sápmi, a land area across Northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. It is the largest area used for agroforestry in Europe.
Semi-natural pastures with bushes and trees are agroforestry systems that due to their contribution to natural values, e.g. biodiversity, are described as important to reach the Swedish National Environmental Objectives such as; “Rich agricultural landscape” and “Rich flora and fauna”. According to Statistics Sweden (2019), there were about 452 000 hectares of semi-natural pasture in Sweden in 2016.
Today there is a growing group of farmers developing various forms of agroforestry systems. To some extent, there is research connected in order to evaluate them. These systems are based on agroecological theories. There are systems under development, for example, forest gardens/food forests, multi-species orchards, hazel plantations, hens and grazing animals in semi-natural pastures and forests, alley cropping, development of perennial vegetable crops etc.
AGROFORESTRY ASSOCIATIONS in SWEDEN
Agroforestry Sverige (Agroforestry Sweden) was launched in 2016 and is an association with the aim of promoting agroforestry in Sweden and creating networks on agroforestry. They have mixed backgrounds and have some 80 paying members. The newsletter reaches around 300 people and the Facebook page around 1600 people. The association arranges one major activity such as a conference, every other year and one smaller activity such as field trips in between.
Skogsträdgårdsodlarna (The Forest Gardeners) is a community overlapping with agroforestry. The community is structured around a Facebook group Skogsträdgårdsodlarna with about 13 000 members. They also have a map of forest gardens in Sweden that one can visit. At the moment there are about 50 forest gardens reported on the map.
Permakultur i Sverige (Permaculture in Sweden) is an association to promote the vision within permaculture for a sustainable society and that works with the adaption and development of permaculture under Swedish conditions.
Förbundet Svensk Fäbodkultur och utmarksbruk FSF – gathers the Swedish summer farm movement and works to preserve, promote and develop the summer farms, the summer farm culture and the use of other natural fodder fields.
AGROFORESTRY POLICIES in SWEDEN
The agroforestry measure is not implemented in Sweden, and agroforestry is therefore not very visible in CAP and the rural development program. There are however traditional management types that classify as agroforestry systems which are included in the program in measure 10 (agri-environmental measures). Summer farms get support within this measure, as well as semi-natural pastures. EU subsidies for semi-natural pastures are based on the ecological and cultural values of the land, and there are different levels of payment depending on the values. Higher payment can be received after inventories have established these values, and management requirements have been set. Pollarding can also receive support. For some types of semi-natural pastures, for example with many trees, there is only support from the rural development program (pillar 2), and not direct payments (pillar 1). Such is the case with silvopasture.
Due to the greening of the direct payment, farmers may be required to have ecological focus areas. It is possible to choose Salix as an ecological focus area. Salix could be used as part of an agroforestry system on arable land.
It is possible to apply for support that is not based on the area in the rural development program and in LEADER. Projects or investments related to agroforestry are not specifically mentioned, but could potentially get support this way, if used creatively.
Two movies about agroforestry systems in Sweden by film-maker Maja Lindström Kling
“The Forest Garden at Rydeholm” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaoGlkrxyvE
and in collaboration with Agroforestry Sweden “Establishment of Silvopastoral Agroforestry at Kyrkbygård” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gH3uKeWRWM&t=3s
RELEVANT SWEDISH AGROFORESTRY WEBSITES
- SAFE – SITES Agroecological Field Experiment
- Assessing ecosystem services in perennial intercropping systems – participatory action research in Swedish modern agroforestry Report
TAKE A LOOK AT AGROFORESTRY in SWEDEN
Forest garden at Väversunda farm. Photo: Elsa Lagerquist