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Project Structure

In a trans-disiplinary approach the ASAP project aims to both develop and cement knowledge concerning agroforestry systems in southern Africa.

This is carried out through the undertaking of nine working packages that each address a specific set of tasks. Find out more below:


Education & Demonstration

The project is working in trans-disciplinary fields, and is therefore, appropriate for a wide range of study programmes. Project work will be transmitted within both new and existing teaching curricula in all partner countries and will be closely linked with the education of students and early stage researchers in the form of theses (Bachelor, Master and PhD level), internships and as part of modular teaching programmes. A summer school and final lecture tour in southern Africa will also take place in the latter stages of the project. The establishment of demonstration sites showcasing options and good management practice as a tool for teaching is a fundamental part of the project and will form a long-lasting project legacy.


Collaboration and Exchange

Collaboration builds a solid ground for all the pillars in ASAP. Knowledge exchange and delivery of project results will take place with the promotion of conferences and workshops, through the ASAP website and internal newsletter. At different project's stages, workshops will be highly appreciated for sharing of methodologies and techniques between partners, creating an awareness about the projects "big-picture" and associated follow-up steps. Development of research and training capacity for students and academic staff is in the core of ASAP. Exchange of academic researchers will be facilitated. Exchange visits may provide useful insights into challenges and solutions, and facilitate discussions with local experts.


Knowledge Transfer

and Dissemination

Science-Science and Science-Praxis knowledge transfer is a key component of the ASAP project and output will be aimed at a wide target audience. Utilizing its in-country and regional networks, SASSCAL will support ASAP in knowledge transfer and marketing, advising policy and economy stakeholders establishing Private-Public-Policy-Partnerships interactions, the transfer of research outcomes into demand-driven services. Formats such as cross-sectoral regional, workshops, stakeholder forums, conference side events and exhibitions conducted by and with local specialists, accompanying prepared and targeted guidelines for farmers, land owners, commercial operators, consultants, NGOs and legislative and governmental organisations, will take place. By this, the Science-Policy dialogue in the region will be further strengthened through feasible instruments established by both previous and ASAP consortium activities.

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Carbon Sequestration

Trees, agricultural crops, grasses, shrubs and bushes all grow in AFS, all actively sequester carbon from the air, transforming it into plant tissues. Assessing the carbon sequestration potential of AFS requires the study of carbon partitioning in each system (i.e. above and belowground carbon stocks). Trees must be assessed in terms of their architecture, volume and biomass (tree measurements, terrestrial laser scanning technology, allometric biomass modelling) to asses carbon content. In the soils, carbon sequestration potential is assessed through site- and land-use specific surveys on soil carbon stocks.


Erosion and Hydrological Processes

Soil erosion is a main cause for land degradation in southern Africa. The region is particularly affected by climate change and as most people depend on subsistence agriculture, loss of fertile crop production area has an adverse impact on livelihood and food security. Agroforestry practices were shown to decrease soil erosion in other parts of the world and could play an important role as a climate change adaption and mitigation strategy in southern Africa.
Soil surveys will be undertaken to analyse different soil properties influencing soil erodibility identifying vulnerable soil types. Wind erosion will be measured during the dry season, with dust deposition quantified. Water redistribution will be traced and related to possible limitations in multiuse landscapes by measuring hydraulic properties.


Tree-Crop-Livestock Interactions

The analysis of the environmental interactions between trees and crops of typical existing and potential AFS is crucial for the development of site-specific design. Comprehensive ecophysiological investigations and innovative microclimatic sensor technologies will be set up along the environmental gradients from the tree to open areas. The integrated analysis will enable the determination of the spatial variance of crop stress index and growth performance in relation to the AFS. Interactions between the individual abiotic and biotic components may affect the others and a compromise must be reached largely within three areas: light, water and nutrient.

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Biodiversity and Habitat

Land-use changes and increasing demands of lands for agriculture is a major threat for biodiversity worldwide. The development of multifunctional agricultural landscapes has to be holistic to support different needs of the society and be able to balance ecosystem services. A key challenge for implementing sustainable and resilient agroforestry systems is the integration of biodiversity and habitat protection. Best-practices agroforestry promoting biodiversity protection will be analysed and include for the development of management plans from the plot to the farm level. A special focus will be on woody species that are abundant and/or socio-ecologically important in terms of AFS. Invasive, alien trees are of major concern for natural southern African ecosystems and their implication for sustainable AFS will be evaluated.

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Managing Agroforestry Systems

Core to the concept of AFS is the ability to produce multiple products from the same land holding, the development of best practice management and decision support systems in order to derive a defined product or set of products is paramount. Studying existing successful combinations, simultaneously the project will suggest modifications and trade-offs to traditional agricultural methods to allow for the inclusion of trees.
Contrasts between tree clusters belonging to different taxa, varying stand density and differences in site and stand conditions will assist in making improvements in matching planted taxa with site conditions, and to make recommendations on management operations to produce a specific range of products and ecosystem services.


Social and Economic Impacts

A multi-level analytical approach will allow for a collaborative comparative analysis of the national contexts and regional local implementation of AFS in several countries in southern Africa. The aim is to study, first, the social and political impacts / effects of AFS at local and regional levels and, second, the policies, institutions, instruments, and political contexts informing AFS at national levels. Assessment of the social, political, and economic contexts guiding the establishment of AFS policies and the effects of utilising trees within agricultural land will critically examine the consequences of the use of trees within agricultural land on rural societies, people, and livelihoods in the case study regions.

Research Programme: Programs
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