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4 Key Benefits of Agroforestry

Agroforestry contributes to the livelihoods of local farmers while also balancing global ecosystems and agricultural systems.

The well-being of our environment is the foundation of our society. When vital ecosystems become endangered, we drastically increase the risk of food insecurity, poverty, and supply chain disruptions—showing just how vulnerable our systems are to environmental collapse.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has reported that the global decline in nature will cost $500 Billion USD per annum by 2050, which includes:

  • $327 billion from coastal zone degradation, due to extreme events and rising sea levels.
  • $128 billion from loss of carbon storage that protects against climate change.
  • $15 billion from loss of habitats for bees and other pollinating insects.
  • $19 billion due to reduced water availability for agriculture.
  • $7.5 billion due to the loss of forests and forest ecosystem services.

To alleviate these environmental and financial risks, PUR is working with global partners to implement Nature-Based Solutions (NBS), such as agroforestry and regenerative agriculture—which can mitigate around 35% of these costs by transitioning supply chains and restoring ecosystems. According to the United Nations, investments in NBS must be multiplied by four by 2050, since over half of global GDP is dependent on healthy and well-functioning ecosystems.


By strategically planting trees alongside crops and livestock, agroforestry contributes to the livelihoods of local farmers while also balancing global ecosystems and agricultural systems.

An amazing aspect of agroforestry is its flexibility across different climates and landscapes. Best practices involve selecting native tree species that benefit the local context, targeting different impacts based on the specific needs of the land—such as enhancing biodiversity, regenerating soils, preserving water sources, and preventing erosion.

  1. Enhancing Biodiversity: On coffee landscapes in Colombia, we’re seeing the positive impact of agroforestry on local plants and animals after nearly 10 years of project implementation. By planting native trees in deforested areas, PUR is working to restore biodiversity to landscapes that have been degraded by agricultural expansion.
  2. Improving Soil Structure: Agroforestry is particularly important for coffee and cocoa production on steep slopes, in countries like Colombia and Ghana. This elevation exposes farmers to soil erosion and landslides, which makes the reliability of yields extremely precarious. Our projects plant trees particularly suited to slopes—which add essential nutrients to the soil, while also consolidating the structure of thin soils to prevent degradation, erosion, and landslides.
  3. Preserving Water Sources: In the South of France, where wine has such strong cultural and economic importance, trees are essential for conserving water for grapevine cultivation. Wine production in France is increasingly endangered because of climate change, which is depleting groundwater sources and soil nutrients. Through agroforestry, we can plant tree species that maintain water underground, while also improving soil quality—helping to cycle nutrients and prevent erosion from further degrading the land.
  4. Supporting Local Livelihoods: Beyond landscape impacts, PUR pairs its agroforestry projects with unique economic initiatives to support local livelihoods—including profitable opportunities through tree nurseries, fish breeding, and beekeeping. We also plant specific trees that help farmers diversify their income, such as popular fruit trees like durian, avocado, and mangosteen. These are effective strategies for motivating farmers to participate in ecosystem restoration, while also taking good care of the trees on their land for the long-term future.


Many farming regions around the world face increasing environmental pressures, and would greatly benefit from the implementation of agroforestry and other regenerative practices. Yet when it comes to designing agroforestry programs, it’s important to realize that every farmer has dynamic and diverse objectives. 


“Agroforestry—a practice rooted in traditional agriculture that continues to evolve on smallholder farms around the world—can improve the resilience of vulnerable communities, vital ecosystems, and susceptible supply chains.”
—Stephanie Gagliardi, Agroforestry Expert at PUR


That’s why PUR has developed four comprehensive Agroforestry Principles, which guide the development of our projects to ensure relevance and impact in any region where we operate:

  1. Biodiverse with diverse impacts: PUR’s agroforestry projects are multi-species systems that facilitate positive interactions between trees, crops, and/or livestock. Our process of species selection is adaptable to a variety of environmental conditions—maximizing PUR’s impact on ecosystem services, local biodiversity, and community livelihoods.
  2. Relevant to all stakeholders: PUR’s agroforestry projects are relevant to all participating stakeholders, including the diverse objectives of:
    • Farmers: production goals, risk mitigation, climate resilience

    • Local Communities: food security, watershed management, community benefit activities

    • Clients: sustainability initiatives, carbon sequestration, crop yields

  3. Adapted to the local context: PUR’s agroforestry projects are adapted to the local context in four distinct ways:
    Cultural context: local knowledge, community connections, and social code

    Environmental context: constraints of landscape, availability of ecosystem services

    Market context: availability and sustainability of markets for farm products

    Governance context: regulations and recommendations at local to national scales 

  4. Impactful at the landscape level: PUR uses a landscape approach to project design—incorporating several regional farms into collective strategies, while ensuring that projects are scalable in the long run to consistently expand impact.


At PUR, we believe that nature-based solutions are essential for the well-being of our planet—creating agricultural systems that can restore nature and overcome the challenges of climate change.

That’s why we prioritize agroforestry projects that align with leading global frameworks, such as the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and Net Zero. Through multi-stakeholder projects, PUR supports farmers using innovative landscape management techniques, while working directly with major corporations to protect the ecosystems that we all depend upon. 

As a nature-based project implementer, we have established clear principles for best practices in agroforestry. Through 15 years of experience building NBS projects, we’ve also learned how to secure long-term impacts through active monitoring and adaptive management—adjusting our projects successfully as conditions change over time.


Sep 22, 2023


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