Conversion of degraded cropland to tree plantations for ecosystem and livelihood benefits

Asia Khamzina, John P.A. Lamers, Paul L.G. Vlek

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

33 Citations (Scopus)


This section summarizes the findings of a multidisciplinary, long-term research program that assessed the potential of plantation forestry to rehabilitate a degraded, irrigated-agriculture ecosystem. Bio-physical and socio-economic studies conducted during 2002-2009 in Khorezm assessed the suitability of afforestation with multipurpose species as an alternative land-use option, by examining the ecosystems services and opportunities for income generation. The initial phase involved inventory, evaluation, and selection of suitable tree species and determination of the irrigation demand for establishing plantations on highly salinized, nutrient-poor soils with a shallow, saline groundwater table. Next, the environmental services were investigated including biological drainage for soil salinity control, improvement of soil nutrient stocks, and carbon sequestration into soil and tree biomass. Potential income generation from timber and non-timber products such as fuelwood, leaf fodder, and fruits was compared to that from a continued cropping of the degraded cropland. Sociological surveys evaluated farmers' perceptions and current silvicultural practices to determine the prerequisites for introducing farm forestry in the area. Overall, evidence on ecosystem rehabilitation and financial benefits suggest that converting degraded cropland to long-term forestry use is an attractive option. Socio-economic obstacles such as legislative aspects of retiring degraded cropland and related land tenure issues, poor market conditions for tree products, lack of incentives and under-appreciation of the benefits of tree-based systems need to be addressed to ensure farmer and governmental support for afforestation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCotton, Water, Salts and Soums
Subtitle of host publicationEconomic and Ecological Restructuring in Khorezm, Uzbekistan
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9789400719637
ISBN (Print)9400719620, 9789400719620
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Dec 1
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.


  • Afforestation
  • Biodrainage
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Farmers' preference and motivation
  • Multipurpose tree species
  • Net Present Value
  • Nitrogen fixation
  • Salinity
  • Tree fodder
  • Wood for fuel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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