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Silvopasture over the years.

Silvopasture (Latin, silva forest) is the practice of combining woodland (trees) and the grazing of domesticated animals in a mutually beneficial way. It is one of several distinct forms of agroforestry. Advantages of a properly-managed silvopasture operation are enhanced soil protection and increased long-term income due to the simultaneous production of trees and grazing animals. The trees are managed for high-value sawlogs, brushwood, foliage, fodder, and, simultaneously provide shade and shelter for livestock and some forage, reducing stress and sometimes increasing forage production.[1]

Perhaps, the oldest agroforestry system used in the temperate regions of the world, silvopastoral systems are characterized by integrating trees with forage and livestock production. Such systems have the potential to increase agricultural production in the long-term. The trees have to be repeatedly pollared rather than coppiced so the trees' re-growths are out of reach of the livestock. After centuries, the trees' boles become notably-squat, but this restriction on size increases tree lifespan.



Wood pasture in winter in the Wisentgehege Springe game park near Springe, Hanover, Germany.

Fruit and nut and silvopasture systems covered large portions of central Europe until the 20th century, and are still-widespread in some areas.[2] Wood pasture, one of the oldest land-use practices in human history,[2] is a historical European land management system in which open woodland provided shelter and forage for grazing animals, particularly sheep and cattle, as well as woodland products such as timber for construction and fuel, coppiced stems for wattle and charcoal making and pollarded poles. Since Roman times, pigs are released into beech and oak woodlands to feed on the acorn and beech mast, and into fruit orchards to eat fallen fruit.[2]


Silvopasture is the integration of trees, forages, and livestock for mutually-beneficial outcomes.[3]

Two methods of establishment are 1) Integrating trees into existing pasture, and 2) Developing forages under existing trees.

Ireland, Wales, Scotland, lower regionsEdit

Veteran pollard oak, a sign of ancient wood pasture at Windsor.

Tree species and planting densities are studied over a range of sites at The Silvopastoral National Network Experiment.[4] Natural England's Environmental Stewardship scheme defines Wood Pasture, in the Farm Environmental Plan booklet, as a structure of open grown or high-forest in a matrix of grazed-grassland, heathland, and/or woodland floras.

Their experience shows sheep use the trees for shelter from wind. This could provide significant animal-welfare benefits. However, 'sheep time' close to trees results in soil compaction with the greatest-compaction after trees are planted at very-low densities. Some botanists recommend trees be planted at no-less than 400 per hectare to ensure good-establishment.

Evidence of old wood-pasture management is detectable in many of the ancient woodlands of Scotland, such as Rassal Ashwood in Ross-shire,[5][6] and at Glen Finglas in the Trossachs. The Dalkeith Old Wood, belonging to the Duke of Buccleuch, cattle grazing beneath ancient oak, is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) [6] (or 'SSSI').

Aldermaston, BerkshireEdit

Ancient pollard oaks with a couple sweet chestnuts in western Berkshire's Aldermaston Court's derelict wood pasture.

these united StatesEdit

Silvopastures are the most-viable and prominent agroforestry practice in these united States, particularly in the Confederacy.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Silvopasture". National Agroforestry Center. National Agroforestry Center. 10 April 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Wolfe, Martin S.; Pearce, Bruce D.; Smith, Jo (2012/12). "A European perspective for developing modern multifunctional agroforestry systems for sustainable intensification". Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems. 27 (4): 323–332. doi:10.1017/S1742170511000597. ISSN 1742-1713. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ Fike, John Herschel; Buergler, Alicia Lenore; Burger, James Anthony; Kallenbach, Robert Louis (2004). "Considerations for Establishing and Managing Silvopastures". fg. 2 (1): 0. doi:10.1094/fg-2004-1209-01-rv. ISSN 1547-4631.
  4. ^ Forum, The Farm Woodland. "The Farm Woodland Forum - Silvopastoral National Network Experiment".
  5. ^ "Wood Pasture: Rassal Ashwood National Nature Reserve". Scottish Natural Heritage.
  6. ^ a b Stiven, Roland; Holl, Kate (2004). Wood Pasture. Perth, UK: Scottish Natural Heritage. ISBN 1853973866.

Further readingEdit

  • Venator, Charles R., Jurgen Glaeser and Reynaldo Soto. 1992. "A Silvopastoral Strategy" in Development or Destruction: The Conversion of Tropical Forest to Pasture in Latin America. pp. 281–292. Westview Press/Boulder

External linksEdit