How can agroforestry contribute towards climate change mitigation?

Hosted by the Organic Research Centre

National representatives have gathered for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). We know that more is needed, but how can we achieve it? The land management and farming sectors have a vital contribution to make to meeting global targets on climate change. Farmers and food businesses can be at the forefront of developing and implementing at scale solutions which cost-effectively address sustainability challenges. However, their contribution is often under-supported.

We believe that agroforestry can contribute to the achievement of future climate change mitigation targets, but what policy environment can support it? We will explore this question with a panel representing the latest research, on-farm experience, and policy developments, followed by open discussion with attendees.

In this session we will focus on the climate change benefits of agroforestry. We will explore the carbon benefits of agroforestry systems as well as how trees on farm can help build resilience and support adaptation to extreme weather events. The practicalities of implementation and the current direction of travel for support options via the Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme will also be discussed.

After presentations by the panel, there will be opportunity to share your experiences and shape the conclusions drawn from the meeting. The presentations, discussion and conclusions will feed into the development a policy brief that will be delivered after the meeting: highlighting the benefits of agroforestry for climate change mitigation alongside recommendations on how these benefits may be realised.

Speakers/hosts include:

Becky Wilson – Becky is Technical Director of the Farm Carbon Toolkit and has been working with farmers for the last 8 years helping assess their current carbon balance, understand the practical mitigation measures available and implement them. She has been leading The Soil Carbon Project; a partnership project aimed at understanding the potential for soil carbon sequestration across farms, and how soil carbon can be assessed and measured in a way which is practical and robust.

Andrew Barbour – Andrew works on a family farming and forestry business in Highland Perthshire. Running both a cattle and sheep enterprise on land that is over 1000ft altitude, the family have long been interested in the role that shelter plays in the farming part of the business. Different generations have all developed shelter woods on the farm and Andrew is interested in the management of pastoral woodlands and how they integrate with grassland management.

Will Simonson – Will is Head of Research at the Organic Research Centre. With research experience in forest ecology at the University of Cambridge he also leads ORC’s agroforestry research programme. He was previously at a Cambridge based NGO working in the field of climate change adaptation and mitigation using ecosystem-based approaches, including collaboration with The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). Current and recent research at ORC is exploring the benefits of hedgerows, shelter belts and in-field trees for system resilience in the face of climate change and biodiversity loss, including through the EU-funded AGROMIX project ( ORC also leads the ELM test: Designing an Environmental Land Management system for UK agroforestry (

Lancashire Woodland Connect

Hosted by the Ribble Rivers Trust

Lancashire Woodland Connect Campaign is a decade-long campaign to double the area of woodland across Lancashire to fight climate change, improve air quality and reduce flooding. We will plant more than half a million trees to reduce flooding, improve air quality and remove 100,000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Working with private and public sector supporters together with community-based groups and conservation charities, we are aiming to create 100 kilometres of new or restored woodland alongside the Rivers Ribble, Lune and Wyre and their whole catchments.

Dedicated farm and woodland advisors within the three trusts work with our fabulous farmers to find areas of land to create woodland that would not only have a positive impact on water quality but also farm businesses. The introduction of the EWCO, carbon capture payments for farmers are creating an alternative income to compliment a productive farm business.

This aim of this session is to highlight the opportunities within the campaign, the evidence that is used to identify potential planting locations, developing a scheme alongside farmer priorities and the funding opportunities for farmers and landowners in Lancashire.

Speakers/hosts include:

Jack Spees – Jack started at the Ribble Rivers Trust in 2008 as the Fisheries Scientist before being made Trust Director in 2010. Jack now oversees the work undertaken by the Trust and the team as well as providing a wealth of information on all aspects of the river environment.

Kristina Graves – Kristina began working for the Trust in 2019, joining us to fill the new role of Woodland Creation Officer. Having worked on a range of habitat projects Kristina has an excellent knowledge of woodlands and ecology which is already proving to be a huge asset to the team.

Kathryn Oddie – Kathryn joined the team in 2019. Kathryn works as a farm advisor for the trust on the Ribble Life Together project and runs the River Loud farm group. As well as being a local farmers daughter, she has a background in agri- environment and environmental monitoring.

Heather Whalley – Heather is a farmer from the Hodder Valley, with a passion for the environment and combining sustainable farming and conservation. With a great knowledge of the local area, her work as a farm advisor will be to engage, visit and support farmers to make positive changes for the catchment

Agroforestry in the North

Hosted by Innovative Farmers, Soil Association.

Government dramatically failed on its target to plant more trees last year, and recently the Prime Minister has pledged 30k trees to be planted a year. What are the barriers for farmers adding more trees into their farming systems and what are the range of benefits that can come from including more forestry on the farm? Farmers, researchers and woodland specialists need to work together to make sure any future planting is effective for the environment and provides clear business case and benefits to the farmer.

Featuring farmers working on established and new agroforestry projects, this session enabled attendees to learn about the practicalities, challenges and opportunities of setting up agroforestry on their farms. The panel will detail some of the schemes available to help support planting, and some research on the livestock health and wellbeing benefits that can come with increasing the tree cover on the farm.


Helen Chessire is lead farming advocate at the Woodland Trust, responsible for working with both the farming sector and policy makers to promote the benefits of trees on farms.  Otherwise known as agroforestry, the deliberate integration of trees within agricultural crops and livestock is a win –win for sustainable food production and the natural environment.  The Woodland Trust can provide advice and support to farmers interested in agroforestry.  Helen grew up on a diary and sheep farm in the Midlands.

Dr. Lindsay Whistance is a Senior Livestock Researcher at the Organic Research Centre. She has been working in animal behaviour, health and welfare research since 2003. Her interests include human-animal relationships and the role that diverse, species-rich environments play in offering good welfare conditions as well as food and medicine for domestic animals. Her current research activities include investigating the nutritional benefits of tree fodder including vitamin, mineral and tannin content.

Ben Raskin is Head of Agroforestry and Horticulture at the Soil Association and manages an agroforestry project at Helen Browning’s Farm in Wiltshire he established in 2016. He co-chairs the newly formed Defra Edibles Horticulture Roundtable, sits on the boards of the Organic Growers Alliance and Community Supported Agriculture Network UK. His own experience includes; running a walled garden in Sussex supplying a Michelin starred restaurant, working for Garden Organic at their gardens in Kent. Ben also set up and ran the 10 acre horticultural production at Daylesford Organic Farm, before moving to the Welsh College of Horticulture as commercial manager. More recently he has acted as Horticultural Advisor and Board Member for the Community Farm near Bristol. Ben is also an author of gardening books for children and grownups.

Andy Gray runs the Elston farm in Crediton (Devon) which also has a catering butchers and The Meatbox Company supplying red meat across the country. Andy is embarking on a silvopasture agroforestry field lab working with FWAG South West, Rothamsted FarmInn, Woodland Trust and Innovative Farmers.

Dr Kate Pressland is Programme Manager, Innovative Farmers, at the Soil Association which she joined in 2013 to run the research elements of the Duchy Future Farming Programme, and now manages Innovative Farmers: the programme’s network of on-farm trials (‘field labs’). Field labs support farmers interested in researching agroecological solutions to practical problems, by teaming them up with researchers to work directly on the issues the farmers face, on their own land, developing their own ideas. Kate is responsible for engaging with the programme’s stakeholders including farmers, producers, advisers, scientists, policy makers and industry bodies to develop farmer-led research as a key practice for improving agricultural sustainability and resilience. She manages its small grants scheme that helps boost the ability of the field labs to understand if solutions investigated are effective. Kate also sits on the senior management team of Scotland’s own farmer-centric research programme Rural Innovation Support Service (RISS). Kate has a PhD in agricultural ecology and previously worked for 9 years in land management with farmers across the south west in the conservation sector.

Exploring Scotland’s agroforestry potential


Agroforestry works, but it is not being taken up apace. In the face of climate change and biodiversity collapse, agroforestry is an essential tool to assist in adapting to the agriculture of the future. So what is the potential for adopting it more widely across our wet temperate and upland landscapes and what can we do to increase uptake?


Mike Strachan is Operations and Development Officer at Scottish Forestry and Chair of the Farm Woodland Forum.

Stephen Adlard is a Woodlands Consultant working for SAC Consulting Solutions. He is particularly interested in integrating woodlands and livestock.

Finn Weddle is a self-directed student of agroforestry and an advocate of regenerative livelihoods, ecological design and agroecology. He is especially passionate about the landscape and the businesses and communities that shape it, and is bringing this session to the NRFC to highlight the work being undertaken in Scotland and cross-pollinate learnings with English counterparts. He is also a Director of Reforesting Scotland, has worked extensively with Permaculture Scotland and consults on ecological enterprise, sharing learnings through The Regenerative Livelihood Podcast.

Implementing agroforestry with native cattle as part of a healthy agro-ecosystem

Hosted by Nikki Yoxall, grazier, Aberdeenshire.

This session highlighted the benefits to the farm ecosystem that integrating livestock and trees can bring. We shared how we have brought together native cattle and on farm woodland to reduce the need for supplements, enable outwintering of cattle and promote positive animal health and welfare. Using Holistic Management has enabled us to manage for both wildlife and, diversity and cattle health.

The session reviewed the work we currently undertake as graziers and explored how the approach could be scaled up and adopted across the agriculture sector and how that affects the contribution it makes as a key component of the biosphere.


Nikki and her husband James run a small farm and grazier business in NE Scotland. They raise cattle and poultry in a low input system utilising agroecological principles. Nikki has a role with the Pasture Fed Livestock Association as Research Coordinator, supporting knowledge exchange in the context of pasture fed livestock.