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Opening of 3 new projects in Europe

Three new projects have started in Europe with the participation of Accor hotels. Nearly 11,000 trees will be planted this fall by Italian, Portuguese and Polish farmers in order to develop new ecosystem services in their plots and to provide added value to local productions.

In Portugal, the Alentejo region is one of the hottest and driest in Europe. Agriculture, the first local economic primary resource, is affected by these extreme conditions, which are likely to increase with the predicted climate changes. Traditionally, the mountainous and desert-like landscape have fostered the development of agroforestry systems, more resilient and suitable to this climate. However, modern vision of agriculture has gradually pushed back this practice, making farms more vulnerable.

Objectives of the project: the ADPM association (Associação de Defesa do Património Mértola) supports young farmers in the Alentejo region and trains them to agroecological techniques. The project aims at integrating trees in and around farms, improving agricultural productivity and protect crops from droughts and high temperatures. Trees will also be planted along the water courses to preserve local water sources. Creating ecological corridors complements the plantations to develop various ecosystem services for farmers (pollination, shade, microclimate, etc).

In Poland, the preservation of native fruit varieties is burning issue: for the past 20 years, only plantations of commercial varieties (but not local) have been preferred by farmers. We are now entering an off-peak period in which traditional fruits will not be available because older trees do not produce fruit anymore and young trees are not mature enough for harvest. The CAP has removed its support to fruit trees and only forest species are subsidized in Poland. Moreover, very few farmers take the initiative to replant traditional orchards (apples, pears, plums …).

Objectives of the project: the project, conducted by the Foundation AgriNatura specialized in agricultural biodiversity, aims at restoring the traditional Polish orchards, which are a key component of the ecosystem and the rural landscape in Poland. Partner farmers have small or medium-sized family farms (5-25 ha), mainly organic. The establishment of orchards enables to diversify their sources of income by adding value to local products. Other direct benefits for their agricultural activities will also be prioritized: development of auxiliary culture, protection against climate events, shade for animals …

Italy is among the top 10 countries in the world in terms of agricultural surfaces devoted to organic farming: about 10% of Italian cropland meet organic farming standards. However, agricultural biodiversity is a neglected issue that needs to be addressed as 75% of Italian farms are specialized. In addition, climate changes in southern Europe (droughts, storms) are another challenge to face in order to reduce the vulnerability of farmers in Italy.

Objectives of the Project: the Italian Association for Organic Agriculture (AIAB) is an important and recognized player working for the promotion of organic farming in Italy. As part of two regional projects (North and South) of AIAB, tree plantations with organic farmers initially intends to boost the local economy by diversifying agricultural production: citrus fruits, chestnuts, walnuts , olive oil etc. Farmers will also experience the benefits of integrating trees on their farms (agroforestry) and will learn about the importance of preserving forest areas for more resilience, especially in the South of the country.

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