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Bioregional Agroforestry
Suitability Analysis

Mapping the role of tree crops in watershed regeneration.

What is BRASA?

BRASA is a methodology for mapping a landscape’s suitability for specific agroforestry practices and tree crops.
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Mapping agroforestry areas

It maps and prioritizes the zones with the most potential for agroforestry in a watershed
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Economy + ecology

It identifies the economically and ecologically appropriate crops, practices, and systems for that watershed.

 

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Investment impact

It projects the ecological, economic and social impacts of investing in agroforestry in the watershed.

 

 

Why agroforestry?

No natural ecosystem consists solely of annual plants. Thus, the regeneration of an ecosystem or watershed requires the integration of perennial plants, annual plants, and animals. Agroforestry systems do just that.

Agroforestry includes a set of production systems that produce conservation benefits including reduced erosion, increased drought and flood resilience, and some of the highest carbon drawdown rates of any farming practices.

We know these systems are commercially viable, yet they remain vastly under-implemented in the U.S. BRASA assessess, inventories, and maps the appropriate establishment of agroforestry practices and perennial staple crops for the conditions of any watershed.
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"The widespread adoption of agroforestry practices in the United States could sequester 530 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent each year, thereby transforming US agriculture into a carbon sink".
Case Study : Connecticut River Watershed

BRASA seeks to assess, inventory, and map the appropriate systems and perennial staple crops for the specific conditions of any watershed. Using BRASA, our team created an interactive map platform to enable stakeholders to accurately identify conditions for agroforestry practices at the parcel level for approximately 1.7 million acres surrounding the Connecticut River Watershed in Massachusetts. Benefits are projected to reduce erosion, increase drought risk and flood resilience, and provide some of the highest carbon drawdown rates of any farming practice.


Case Study : Connecticut River Watershed

STAGE 1: Overview

The study area covers approximately 1.7 million acres in Western Massachusetts and includes all of Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties and part of Berkshire and Worcester counties.
  • Hydrogeography
  • Parcel Selection
  • Chestnut Production

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Case Study : Connecticut River Watershed

STAGE 2: Hydrogeography

We incorporated existing hydrologic features in the Connecticut River watershed and it’s six sub-watersheds and tributaries, and included the Quabbin Reservoir, which supplies water for the City of Boston, lakes, ponds, and hundreds of wetlands.
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Case Study : Connecticut River Watershed

STAGE 3: Parcel Selection

After eliminating parcels smaller than 5 acres and parcels classified as developed, parkland or owned by state or federal entities, approximately 115,000 acres, or 7% of the total study area remain. This includes approximately 26,475 individual parcels.
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Case Study : Connecticut River Watershed

STAGE 4: Chestnut Production

The suitability class for hybrid chestnut production indicates the areas that will be most supportive of hybrid chestnut operations, having the highest return on investment environmentally, economically, and socially. Factors considered in this classification include soil type, flood frequency, slope, and pH. Approximately 103,830, or 5.9% of the study area, are identified as areas of potential hybrid chestnut production.
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Regenerative supply systems

There are countless opportunities to produce high value crops in agroforestry systems that far outperform the carbon drawdown of annual cropping systems. You can support farmers who are working to heal landscapes by investing in stategies such as:
  • Timber trees as windbreaks in wheat fields
  • Alley cropping annuals between fruit and nut trees
  • Productive riparian buffers with high value crops such as elderberries and maple syrup
  • Researching planting patterns and improved plant breeding for water intensive trees such as almonds

These strategies not only transform agriculture, but they can also transform your brand. Work with the BRASA process to assess the relevant opportunities for transforming your brand’s supply system.

 

Our pilot projects

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Fire adapted landscapes

An assessment of the opportunity to recreate fire adapted landscapes using regionally appropriate agroforestry systems in the Central California Region.

 

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Chestnuts

A parcel-by-parcel suitability analysis of the Connecticut River watershed to support the incubation of a hybrid chestnut industry in the northeast U.S.

 

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Riparian buffers

A classification of all potential riparian buffer plantings in the Connecticut River watershed. Through this project we will classify buffers by species recommendations and associated market opportunities.

 

Example
Elderberry Production

The BRASA methodology can produce a report that analyzes all riparian buffers within a watershed, and illustrates the appropriate buffers for establishing specific crops like elderberry. Building on that analysis, you can work with TGI to map the ecological and economic impacts of these buffers, such as estimated carbon drawdown and raw production of elderberries. This report can include additional typologies for the buffers, such as buffers prioritized for pollinator habitat or bank stabilization.

 

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Get involved

Work with us to produce a detailed assessment of the watershed(s) in which you work. This assessment will include both GIS analysis, and a survey of cultural and economic factors that support successful investment in agriculture, such as:
  • Local and Regional Market Opportunities
  • Barriers to Adoption (e.g. necessary infrastructure investments or cultural specificities)
  • Available Funding Streams (e.g. NRCS allocations, food system investments and grants, watershed specific initiatives etc.)
  • Ecological, Economic, and Social impacts (e.g. carbon drawdown, biodiversity, water quality, market creation, and farm viability enhancement)

Through this process we will identify the ecologically appropriate crops, animal systems, and practices within your area of interest, map the eligible acreage and areas of concentrated opportunities, and project the ecological, economic, and social impacts of these practices on the watershed.

To find out more, contact our team at design@terra-genesis.com

BRASA is a joint venture

TK Design Lab
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