Agroforestry and Water for resilient landscapes

Policy Brief Published: October 2020

Agroforestry can improve local water cycles and increase farms’ control over and access to freshwater. Trees are crucial components in local, as well as global water cycles. By incorporating trees in agricultural land, it is possible to improve food production systems and meet water needs without adversely affecting neighbouring or downstream water users. This brief focuses on the role of trees for increased water security on smallholder agroforestry farms in the tropics, and opportunities to adopt agroforestry as a landscape restoration practice to make degraded lands more resilient to the consequences of climate change while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


  • Incorporate sustainable agroforestry practices into national policies and strategies to contribute to water security, climate action and enhanced resilience of people and ecosystems.
  • Enhance water security and numerous other ecosystem services by supporting the implementation of agroforestry practices.
  • Support improved water productivity through the implementation of agroforestry practices and better information about opportunities to use limited water resources for better nutrition.
  • Promote agroforestry in forest and landscape restoration (FLR) to support the targets in both the Paris Agreement and the SDGs, not least the targets for water, food and climate action and contribute to international commitments for landscape restoration, such as the Bonn Challenge and Africa 100.
  • Include agroforestry practices in the rainfed-irrigation continuum in landscapes to support recharge of groundwater in upstream areas for downstream irrigation.
  • Use a human rights-based approach in water governance to improve stakeholder engagement, capacity building and the implementation of landscape approaches that support the relationships between livelihoods, agroforestry and water security.