Published March 10, 2023 | Version v2
Thesis Open

The contribution of food forests towards a sustainable food system: Current state and potential in Europe


Food forests are multifunctional perennial polyculture systems that use the structure and functions of a natural forest as a model to cultivate a diverse range of edible plants. They represent an agroforestry practice that has the potential to combine the ecological, social-cultural, and economic benefits of forest ecosystems and agricultural systems in one area. This study provides a comprehensive overview of the current state of food forests in the temperate climate of Europe by presenting collected data from 30 food forests, expert interviews, and site visits. The findings highlight the potential but also the limitations of food forests to create a more sustainable food system while contributing to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A total of 9 SDGs was found to be positively influenced by the effects of food forests, such as soil, water and biodiversity conservation, adaption to climate change and contribution to community well-being. Additionally, the study addresses challenges related to management, social acceptance, and economic efficiency of food forests, and provides guidance for financing and scaling up these systems, as well as promoting their wider adoption into mainstream. The information gathered in this study can be used by food forest entrepreneurs to improve their planning and management processes, enabling them to maximize the benefits of this innovative and promising approach to agriculture.


Food Forest Master thesis Sebastian Gauly1 Kopie.pdf

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