Washington, August 24 (ANI): In a new study, scientists have used detailed satellite imagery to demonstrate that almost half of all farmed landscapes worldwide include significant tree cover, which implies that trees are a vital part of agricultural production.
The study, by scientists from the World Agroforestry Centre, reveals that on more than 1 billion hectares, which make up 46 percent of the world's farmlands and are home to more than half a billion people, tree cover exceeds 10 percent.
"The area revealed in this study is twice the size of the Amazon, and shows that farmers are protecting and planting trees spontaneously," said Dennis Garrity, the Centre's Director General.
"The problem is that policymakers and planners have been slow to recognize this phenomenon and take advantage of the beneficial effect of planting trees on farms," he added.
According to Garrity, trees are providing farmers with everything from carbon sequestration, to nuts and fruits, to windbreaks and erosion control, to fuel for heating and timber for housing.
"Unless such practices are brought to scale in farming communities worldwide, we will not benefit from the full value trees can bring to livelihoods and landscapes," he said.
Previous estimates for the amount of farmland devoted to agroforestry have ranged from as low as 50,000 hectares to as high as 307 million hectares.
But, these estimates were not derived from detailed remote sensing data as was employed in this assessment.
In this study, scientists were able to measure the amount of tree cover on each square kilometer of the world's 22.2 million square kilometers of farmland.
The scientists, who included researchers from the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, found that about 10 million square kilometers of agricultural land have at least 10 percent tree cover.
That includes 3.2 million square kilometers in South America, 1.9 million in sub-Saharan Africa and 1.3 million in Southeast Asia.
According to the report, "trees are an integral part of the agricultural landscape in all regions, except North Africa and West Asia."
"This study offers convincing evidence that farms and forests are in no way mutually exclusive, but that trees are in fact critical to agricultural production everywhere," said Professor Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement. (ANI)