The total forest and tree cover of the India is 794,245 sq km (79.42 million ha) which is 24.16% of its total geographical area. The total forest cover of India is far below the national goal i.e. 33% as per National Forest Policy, 1988 (FSI, 2015). In present days, forestry and agriculture sectors facing diverse challenges and constraints due to growing population pressure, increasing food, pulp, fodder and timber requirement, natural resource degradation and climate change. Diversification of land use with agro-forestry can address some of these challenges. Agro-forestry is contributing to accomplish the national goal as desired tree cover from present less than 25 per cent to 33 per cent. This goal can be achieved by planting trees on farm field/bunds, especially in the states of low tree cover. Agro-forestry is an efficient land-use system where trees or shrubs are grown with arable crops and/or animals, in search of positive interactions in productivity of farm on sustainable basis. However, the ultimate goal of agro-forestry is to contribute to stainable land management and maximise total productivity/income while maintaining the productive capacity of the natural resource base (Winterbottom and Hazelword, 1987).
Benefits of Agro-forestry Two fundamental attributes of all Agro Forestry (AF) systems are productivity and sustainability. The AF systems have mainly two functions, (1) Productive functions (producing one or more products): The various productive functions of AF systems are Food, Fodder, Fuel wood, other products etc (2) Protective functions (protecting and maintaining production systems): The protective functions of AF systems are: Wind-break, Shelter-belt, Soil and water conservation, Soil improvement, Shade (for crop, animal and man) etc. The concept of sustainable forest management recognizes the connections among the health of forests, environment, communities and economy. Sustainable forest management implies viewing the forest as an integrated whole rather than as the source of economy. Indian policies and strategies provide a framework for increased efforts, including the development and strengthening of institutions and programs for forest management and sustainable development.
Following are some of the benefits for agro-forestry systems: Environment Benefits: The general ecological benefits include: (i) Reduce pressure from natural forest
(ii) Efficient recycling of nutrients due to deep root system
(iii) Protection of ecological systems.
(iv) Reduction of surface run-off, nutrient leaching and soil erosion
(v) Improvement and create microclimate
(vi) Increment in nutrient status through leaf litter
(vii) Improvement in soil structure Economic Benefits include:
(i) Increment in an maintenance of outputs of food, fuelwood, fodder, fertilizer and timber;
(ii) Reduction in incidence of total crop failure, common to single-cropping or mono-cropping
(iii) Increase in levels of farm incomes Social Benefits
(i) Improvement in rural living standards from sustained employment a incomes;
(ii) Improvement in nutrition and health due to increased quality and diversity of food output.
(iii) Stabilization and improvement of upland communities. Suitability of species for Agro-forestry Through skilful management practices, any or all of these aspects can be controlled. For example, once it is easy to adopt some or all of the following strategies:
- Select legume trees that have small or sparse crowns so that sufficient sunlight will reach the agricultural crop for photosynthesis;
- Select multipurpose tree species, so that they will produce food, fodder, fuel wood, timber etc
- Select tree species that have deep-rooted so that they will absorb moisture and nutrients from the deeper layer of the soil; and
- Select the tree species which have no Allelopathic effect on agricultural crops
- Adopt wide spacing of the trees to reduce their competitive effects on the food crops. Utilization of agro-forestry species Here, author mainly focus on utilization of forest based agro-forestry systems. Agro-forestry utilization is the process of harvesting, converting and disposing of agro-forestry produce and other resources. Agro-forestry satisfies innumerable human needs, i.e. tangible or intangible and it cannot be bifurcated. Scientifically managed agro-forestry systems perform both needs, simultaneously. This makes it difficult to decide priorities. The difficulty is pronounced in case of public forests wherein claims and needs of multiple beneficiaries are not easy to decide.
At present agro-forestry meets almost half of the demand of fuel wood, 2/3 of the small timber, 70-80 per cent wood for plywood, 60 per cent raw material for paper pulp and 9-11 per cent of the green fodder requirement of livestock, besides meeting the subsistence needs of households for food, fruit, fibre, medicine, timber etc (NRCAF, 2013). Presently, agro-forestry products especially wood were used either locally consumed or traded conventionally and market was highly un-organized, ultimately Post-harvest losses raises upto 5-25% of the total productivity. The improvement or reduces the wastage of wood and wood products in an eco-friendly way is one of the biggest challenges but also an opportunity for wood technologists, The present research was carried out to evaluate the effective methods of utilisation or on value addition that may increase returns by several folds. The efficiency with which sawn wood are converted into finished products can significantly affect the area of forest needed to satisfy demand. During the early 1900s, sawmill timber conversion efficiency was approximately 35 to 40 percent, meaning more than half of each trunk was wasted. In the 21st century, computers aided equipment often makes most of the decisions regarding how tree stems will be converted into products. Historically, the conversion efficiency has reached 70 percent. (Whereas, some inherent loss associated with turning round stems into rectangular boards.) These inherent losses or residual chips and sawdust from sawmilling are turned into pulp for paper and particles for pressed wood composites.
Bark is utilized as fuel or mulch. The close alliance among these different industries (Saw mill and wood composites) may raise conversion efficiency up to 100 percent. In an effort to better utilize agricultural waste or by products such as wheat straw, bagasse and other agricultural residue are being researched as supplemental fiber sources in wood-based composites. The level of information-sharing currently available through technology continues to foster the research and development of remarkable products at a sustainable way. So we can promote the farmer to raise the tree on its farm and get maximum benefit from it, by efficient utilization of that plantation grown species such as Acacia, Cassia, Casuarina, Eucalyptus, Leucaena, Melia, Poplar etc in different regions of the country. Some of basic utilization of different wood species is given in table-1. The wood can classify on basis of suitability criteria for specific use that’s depends upon its physical and mechanical properties.