Participatory agroforestry development for restoring degraded sloping land in DPR Korea
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- Xu, J., van Noordwijk, M., He, J. et al. Agroforest Syst (2012) 85: 291. doi:10.1007/s10457-012-9501-0
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Participatory approaches in agroforestry combine land, labor, and knowledge, by blending local experience with external expert support for sloping land restoration. We describe and analyze over a decade of bottom-up agroforestry development processes that today are influencing national policies. In the 1990s, after economic upheaval following the collapse of trade with the USSR (Soviet Union) rapid conversion of sloping lands to agriculture, in association with heavy rainfall events, caused widespread erosion and landslides. In response, pilot scale ‘user groups’ obtained rights-to-use, rights-to-harvest and rights-to-plan or access to sloping lands for tree products and food. All three rights were novel in the DPR Korea and jointly contributed to success, together with active research support. Innovations in double-cropping annual food crops together with non-competitive contour strips of valuable fruits (aronia berry: Aronia melanocarpa) and/or high-value timber (larch: Larix leptolepis) emerged as preferred local agroforestry systems. Broad support for agroforestry practices has now emerged within the Ministry of Land and Environmental Protection as well as a number of universities and research centres. Further development will require increased engagement with agricultural and horticultural agencies, while the social dimensions of participatory agroforestry continue to provide rich learning.