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Deforestation in Amazonia is most severe in the “arc of deforestation” across the states of Mato Grosso and Pará, driven by intensive soybean and cattle farming. Agroforestry and silvopastoral systems (SPS) offer a more sustainable land use that slow this deforestation, benefits small farmers via increased food security and incomes, whilst simultaneously increasing biodiversity and carbon storage.


To employ a multi-disciplinary approach to develop improved native tree-based agroforestry/SPS and to overcome social and gender bias in their implementation.


Use of next-generation DNA sequencing, plus local knowledge, to identify relatives of cultivated species of the nitrogen-fixing legume genus Inga and to test their performance in a field trial to see which are best suited for planting in the highly seasonal forests of southern Amazonia.
To develop small-scale SPS using native trees and to encourage their uptake via provision of innovative technical support and microcredit.
To understand the current roles, strengths, and barriers to developing women’s social and economic autonomy and to increase the socio-economic impact of agroforestry and SPS income-generating initiatives.


We identified seven Inga species for our field trial. We showed that species never or seldom used in cultivation (e.g., I. huberi, I. macrophylla) outperform widely used species such as I. edulis in both growth rates and survival.
We planted 20x c.3ha demonstration SPS in 4 communities in northern Mato Grosso. These used lines of trees of mixed species separating areas of grazing. Species were chosen to provide benefits (ecological and economic) at different stages of the SPS life cycle. To encourage uptake we have developed simple printed guides plus an innovative mobile phone application, AmazonPasto.
We focused on two women’s agroforestry groups, working with “pequi” (the nutritious fruit of the tree Caryocar brasiliense) and the Female Fibre Artisans Network, who produce handicrafts from forest products. Our findings show how important it is to connect people with the forest at different levels, integrating various aspects of livelihoods with sustainable harvesting of trees, seeds and non-timber forest products.


The Instituto Ouro Verde (IOV) has supported the implementation of more than 2,000 hectares of agroforestry and SPS in northern Mato Grosso. The success of IOV’s programme is built on an interdisciplinary scientific approach. Its uptake depends upon consultative dialogue with communities to create systems that take into account the objectives of individual farmers reinforced by innovative use of technology and provision of microcredit.


Agroforestry, Silvopastoral Systems, Legumes, Gender, Amazonia, Sustainability, Livelihoods

Saulo Souza, Andrezza Spexoto, Alexandre Olival, Kyle Dexter, William Milliken, Rosalía Piñeiro, Maristerra Lemes, Carolyn Petersen, Ana Carolina França Bogo, Catherine Kidner, Toby Pennington

Presentation within symposium:

S-21 The socio-ecological dynamics of tropical silvopastoral systems

The potential of silvopastoral systems in the Brazilian Amazon’s ‘arc of deforestation’


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