Hillside of a farm employing regenerative farming and agroforestry practices.
Pedro Paulo F. S. Diniz

This image shows part of Fazenda da Toca, a 5,700-acre farm managed by Pedro Diniz in Itirapina, Brazil. Employing regenerative farming and agroforestry practices, the Diniz family has created the Institute Toca, which offers education and training in agroecology. The program is based on the teachings of Ernst Gotsch, one of the world’s leading experts in agroforestry. By creating an agricultural system that mimics the forests, they have been able to regenerate sandy dirt into rich loam, create in-farm fertility without the use of compost or manure, and greatly increase water retention.

Multistrata Agroforestry

Support SinksLand SinksShift Agriculture Practices
CO2 Equivalent
Reduced / Sequestered
Billion $US
Net First Cost
(To Implement Solution)
Billion $US
Lifetime Net
Operational Savings
Trillion $US
Net Profit
Multistrata agroforestry systems mimic natural forests in structure. Multiple layers of trees and crops achieve high rates of both carbon sequestration and food production.

Solution Summary*

Multistrata agroforestry takes its cues from the defining feature of forests: layers. Blending an overstory of taller trees and an understory of one or more layers of crops, multistrata agroforestry maximizes both horizontal and vertical space. The blend of plants varies by region and culture, but the spectrum includes macadamia and coconut, black pepper and cardamom, pineapple and banana, shade-grown coffee and cacao, as well as rubber and timber. Home gardens are one particular approach.

By mimicking forests, multistrata systems can:

  • prevent erosion and flooding
  • recharge groundwater
  • restore degraded land and soils
  • support biodiversity by providing habitat and corridors between fragmented ecosystems
  • absorb and store carbon.

An acre of multistrata agroforestry can achieve rates of carbon sequestration comparable to those of afforestation and forest restoration, with the added benefit of producing food.

Multistrata systems are well suited to steep slopes and degraded croplands, and they can relieve pressures from natural forests by providing firewood. Farmers gain income and resilience from multiple crops growing on unique timelines. Yet costs to establish a complex system can be high, and tending it can be more labor intensive. Incentives can help farmers overcome financial barriers and realize the multilayered benefits of multistrata agroforestry.

* excerpted from the book, Drawdown

Multistrata agroforestry can be integrated into some existing agricultural systems; others can be converted or restored to it. If adopted on another 39–66 million hectares by 2050, from 100 million hectares currently, 11.3–20.4 gigatons of carbon dioxide could be sequestered. Average sequestration rate of 4.45 tons of carbon per hectare per year is strong, as is financial return: $1.7–3 trillion lifetime, on a US$54–92 billion initial investment and lifetime operational cost of US$245.4 billion.