On January 23, FLEG Country Program Coordinator, Aurel Lozan, together with Alexandru Rotaru, Project Manager of the United Nations Development Program, participated in the TV program entitled “Dialogue with Experts”, broadcasted on the Moldovan channel Agro TV, to discuss the advantages of agroforestry and its contribution to sustainable development.
The practice of agroforestry has ancient roots and consists in integrating trees or shrubs with agricultural plantings in order to make the agro-systems more diverse, productive, and sustainable. This technique plays an important role in maintaining the ecological stability, benefitting both nature and humans.
Moldova has a long tradition of growing forest protection belts in agricultural systems, but in the ‘90s, when the country became independent, a significant part of these shelterbelts was cut down by the population to obtain fuelwood. According to the FLEG report “Illegal Logging in Moldova: Analytical Study 2010-2011”, this phenomenon represented one of the main sources of illegal logging.
In the National Plan for Forest Vegetation Expansion 2014-18, the Moldovan government took measures to favour the afforestation of degraded land. The data provided by the Agency of Land Relations and Cadastre indicates that about 30,000 hectares of land are currently occupied by shelterbelts. These serve as a true green corridor that protects crops from high winds, supports thermal regulation, maintains water balance, sustains biodiversity, and enhances crop productivity as well as acting as wildlife corridors.
The recent FLEG report “Forest dependence based on surveys conducted in three villages of Moldova” highlights that numerous protection belts are made of walnut trees, which represent an important resource for forest-dependent communities. Locals often collect walnuts for personal consumption or sell them to companies that export them all over the world.
In a country like Moldova that heavily relies on its agricultural sector (74% of its land surface is devoted to agriculture), agroforestry represents an important tool to enhance land productivity as a whole.
This perspective is supported by the FLEG report “Evaluation of Forest Ecosystem Services in the Republic of Moldova”, which presents the economic, social, and environmental advantages of the Forest Ecosystem Services beneficial to citizens. According to the forecasts of the study, the monetary value of forest vegetation for the agricultural sector could amount to $212.5 million in the next 25 years. This scenario would only become a reality if ecosystems are managed to meet both ecological and human needs in the future, and adequate measures are taken to stop ecosystem degradation.
Many factors indicate that agroforestry has the potential to bring a significant contribution to the economic development of Moldova, but only under one condition: this practice needs to go hand in hand with a sustainable management of forest resources and actions to fight illegal logging, two primary objectives stated in the Saint Petersburg Declaration.