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 #173 - The Role of Mushrooms in Nature

Fungi play vital roles in ecosystem health. There are numerous fungi that produce fleshy fruiting bodies known as mushrooms, many of which are prized for their edible and medicinal uses. In this edition of The Overstory, Paul Stamets explores the role of mushroom-producing fungi (commonly referred to as mushrooms) in the health of forests and other landscapes.

The article covers three basic ecological groups of mushrooms those that form a symbiosis with host plants called mycorrhizal mushrooms; those that act on living plants called parasitic mushrooms; and those that recycle dead plant material, the saprophytic mushrooms.

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Overstory #172 - Alley cropping (hedgerow intercropping)


Alley cropping or hedgerow intercropping is an agroforestry practice in which perennial, usually leguminous trees or shrubs are grown simultaneously with an arable crop. The trees, managed as hedgerows, are grown in wide rows and the crop is planted in the interspace or 'alley' between the tree rows. During the cropping phase the trees are pruned and the prunings used as green manure or mulch on the crop to improve the organic matter status of the soil and to provide nutrients, particularly nitrogen, to the crop. The hedgerows are allowed to grow freely to shade the inter-rows when there are no crops. Alley cropping retains the basic restorative attributes of the bush fallow through nutrient recycling, fertility regeneration and weed suppression and combines these with arable cropping so that all processes occur concurrently on the same land, allowing the farmer to crop the land for an extended period.

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Overstory #171 - The potential of chainsaw milling outside forests


Due to the length of this article, the bibliography and an extensive resource table are not included here. To download the article in it's entirety, please visit http//www.agroforestry.net/pubs.


Common opinions concerning the sawing of logs into boards with a chainsaw include it is not possible, hardly anyone does it, it is very wasteful, it produces curved boards, and the finish is very rough. A new book (Pasiecznik et al., 2006) may overturn these misconceptions, and allow the reader to see milling with chainsaws in a new light, as an increasingly common method of producing timber, being cheap and efficiency, available to most people, producing quality timber, with appropriate technology already available and just waiting to be applied. Most chainsaw milling today is, however, carried out 'freehand', i.e. without the use of any guides, frames or rails that would otherwise help sawyers produce even better quality boards with less chance of accidents. The few studies on chainsaw milling that do exist highlight the need for further training.

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Overstory #170 - Agroforester's Library (update)

Thank you for visiting The Overstory journal.

This page is merely a placeholder in the journal's numbered sequence for a previously published edition, informing subscribers of updated reference links and changes in the Agroforester's Library.

Please visit the Agroforester's Library consisting of recommended books, periodicals, species references and other links one may find useful in the agroforestry field. 

Overstory #169 - Forestry and sustainable livelihoods

What part can forests and forestry play in reducing poverty?

The adoption of the International Development Target of halving global poverty by the year 2015 has served to reaffirm the mandates of multilateral and bilateral agencies and international centres. There is general agreement that this should be the major global development goal. Certainly one cannot ask for a more noble goal, or a more ambitious one.

For those working in forestry, the question raised is a critical one what part can forests (and forestry) play in reducing poverty? This question requires a new perspective on forests and their use, in which success is measured not only by the amount of forest products harvested, export figures or revenue generated, but also by the contribution of forests in alleviating poverty. It requires more attention to identifying the overall contribution of forests, and of the goods and services they provide, to the livelihoods of the poor, and then the development of strategies for maintaining or enhancing this contribution.

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Overstory #167 - Riparian buffer zone restoration for food security


Rivers, streams and creeks are attractive and valuable components of nature that provide beauty, enjoyment, recreation, inspiration and valuable resources for both urban and rural communities (Babb, 1996). From the beginning of human history riparian ecosystems have been one of the most intensively used ecosystems in the world. "Riparius" is a Latin word meaning "belonging to the bank of a river". It is the biotic community located at the bank of any kind of water body. All waterways have riparian zones whether they are tiny creeks or major rivers. This is the waterways buffer. It stretches along both sides of the waterway and is as wide as the area where annual or periodic flooding occurs.

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