Defining Regenerative Agriculture and the Intersection with Sustainable Forestry

  • LEAD AUTHOR  Kathryn Fernholz, Harry Groot, Sarah Harris, Jim Bowyer
  • DATE  August 2022
  • CATEGORY  Agriculture, Forestry

A drive toward true sustainability is a shared objective in many sectors – including agriculture and forestry.
As articulated in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), all sectors are necessary contributors to environmental, social, and economic sustainability.1 Within forestry, there has been an evolution in terminology over the past 100 years to define sustainability, including “multiple use” and “sustainable forest management” and the emergence of public policy and private sector initiatives like certification to guide advancements. Similar evolutions have been occurring in agriculture, with terms like “organic”, “sustainable”, and “regenerative” being advanced in policy and practice. Specifically, the term regenerative agriculture has reemerged in recent years and is reflective of efforts to achieve greater sustainability, particularly within food systems. 

This report explores the definition of regenerative agriculture, including the expression of principles and practices that may intersect with the greater use of trees and forestry within food systems. The integration of farming and forestry at greater scales may provide significant social, environmental, and economic benefits. However, there are substantial barriers to achieving this integration that exist within public agencies, policies and programs, research and educational institutions, and markets. Regenerative agriculture clearly intersects with forestry in its philosophy and stronger cross-sector collaboration should be supported through public and private sector leadership.