A free email agroforestry journal for practitioners, extension agents, researchers, professionals, students, and enthusiasts. One edition is sent each month focusing on a concept related to designing, developing, and learning more about trees and agroforestry systems. Focuses on trees and their roles in agriculture, natural ecosystems, human culture and economy.

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Overstory #238 - Windbreaks for livestock production facility odor mitigation

Residential street with poor noise reduction.Windbreaks around livestock production can help mitigate the movement of odors and dust.


Windbreaks (shelterbelts, vegetative environmental buffers) placed around livestock production facilities as Working Trees can help mitigate the movement of odors and dust generated by these operations. Four primary factors are thought to contribute to these odor issues:

  • Urban expansion has placed many more people into closer contact with agricultural operations.
  • Large scale livestock confinement production has led to increased concentrations of manure.
  • Heavy concentrations of odor emissions travel across highly modified landscapes relatively devoid of natural barriers.
  • Market economics and regulatory policies create limited producer incentives to control activities beyond minimum regulatory requirements.

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Overstory #237 - Agroforester's Library (update)

Residential street with poor noise reduction.
Agroforestry references, species references, and book sources recommended by specialists from around the world are covered in the Agroforester's Library.


The Agroforester's Library covers agroforestry references, species references, book sources, organizations, periodicals, and web sites. Since its first publication in 1998, we have periodically added new material, update web links, and remove outdated material based on subscriber input

Due to the length of the material, only the organizational links are included here. View the entire updated library at http://www.agroforestry.net/aflibr.html.

We welcome your comments and input.

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Overstory #236 - Using agroforestry to buffer noise

Residential street with poor noise reduction.A single row of trees will not provide noticeable noise reduction. At best they will provide a visual screen between residents and the noise source. (USDA National Agroforestry Center file photo)


Excessive noise is considered a form of environmental pollution and can have detrimental effects for individuals and their quality of life. Unwanted noise can cause anxiety, tension, and in some cases even illness. Prolonged exposure to high levels of noise can also cause hearing loss. Outdoor noise invades our recreational areas, parks, playgrounds, schools, and even our backyards.

Obviously the most effective way to reduce noise pollution is to reduce the noise level or to completely enclose it. Quieter running lawn equipment, different road surface materials, and slower traffic speeds are all ways to lower noise levels. When noise generation cannot be reduced, creating noise barriers or buffers between the source of the noise and the recipient is another option. The amount of noise acceptable varies depending on the individual and the circumstances surrounding the situation.

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Overstory #235 - Trees outside forests and production systems

Shade grown coffee in South Kona, Hawaii"Agroforestry coffee-growing systems offer numerous advantages from the ecological standpoint."

Agroforests: a forest-oriented agricultural strategy?

Throughout the world (and most of history), peasant farmers have wandered, exploited and worked the forests, often refashioning them to suit their own needs. Ecosystems repeatedly subjected to human activity become heavily modified in their composition, structure and functions, sometimes losing a large portion of their tree cover. Some systems, such as the Indonesian agroforests, lean more toward the forest component, but they are nonetheless the outcome of extreme human ecosystem intervention in which farmers tended to singly and collectively appropriate the land and its resources.

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Overstory #234 - Trees on farms to enhance agricultural sustainability and increase resilience to climate change

Agroforester in southeastern Thailand."Fortunately, there are examples from around the world of low-input, socially-relevant, pro-poor, approaches to rural development that relate to production, livelihoods, and ecosystem service functions."—R.R.B Leakey


The tree products of interest to foresters are both timber and non-timber forest products (NTFPs), with timber predominating in forest industries. NTFPs are important in the valuation of forest and as a resource for the livelihoods of forest people, but the term NTFPs has many meanings (Belcher, 2003). One issue is that a high proportion of NTFPs are actually harvested from farms, so there is grey line between whether they are really common property extractive forest products or privately owned farm crops. Distinguishing between these is important in terms of agricultural development and trade statistics (Simons and Leakey, 2004).

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Overstory #233 - Agroforestry in coping with meteorological and climatological risks

Structurally complex forest in Queensland, Australia.Yapese agroforests such as this have sustainably supplied food, fiber, medicine, and fuel, while also providing essential ecosystem services for thousands of years.

Combating disasters by using agroforestry

Trees outside forests and agroforestry are defined in BOX I. It is recognized (Stolton et al. 2008) that there have been many international agreements and declarations linking the preservation of ecosystem services with the mitigation of disasters. But it must be noted that in many cases it is only the permanent and well-managed setting aside of land and sea as protected areas which can provide the stability and protection so often called for. Protected areas can play three direct roles in preventing or mitigating disasters arising out of natural hazards (Stolton et al. 2008; WWF 2008):

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