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A Win-Win on Agricultural Lands: Creating Wildlife Habitat through Agroforestry


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Forest Farming: West Virginia landowner Dave Carman, right, discusses his forest ‘crop’ of false unicorn with USFS Research Forest Products Technologist Jim Chamberlain. False unicorn is a native medicinal plant with a market value upwards of $50 per dried pound for the roots. (Credit: Catherine Bukowski)
The 2014 Farm Bill reduces conservation program spending by $6 billion — the first decrease in conservation funding by a Farm Bill since the inclusion of conservation incentives in 1985. These funding cuts will impact habitat enhancement on private lands, typically accomplished through Farm Bill incentive programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP). CRP lands alone will shrink from 32 million acres in the previous Farm Bill to 24 million acres by 2017 (NWF 2014). So the question becomes: What other options can produce economic benefits for ranchers and farmers while also providing wildlife benefits?
 
One key option in the toolbox is agroforestry — the intentional combination of agriculture and forestry to create an integrated and sustainable land-use system for the benefit of both landowners and wildlife. This integrated approach is essential, given that nearly 51 percent of land use in the U.S. is dedicated to agricultural production (Nickerson et al. 2011). Farms and ranches are therefore a critical piece in the conservation puzzle, as actions taken on these working landscapes have an impact on wildlife and the health of ecosystems.

 

Read more: http://news.wildlife.org/twp/a-win-win-on-agricultural-lands/

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