Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Environmental Quality
State Water Control Board
Certification of Nonpoint Source Nutrient Credits (formerly 4VAC50-80) [9 VAC 25 ‑ 900]
Action Promulgate new Nutrient Trading Certification Regulations
Stage Proposed
Comment Period Ended on 3/16/2015
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3/12/15  2:46 pm
Commenter: Katie Trozzo

Diversifying Approved Land Conversion to include Agroforestry

I am very excited to see how far along Virginia is with developing comprehensive water quality credit trading guidelines, but see some room for further development. One concern I have is limited approved choices for land conversion. Going through a case-by-case situation to get approval for different land conversion practices is not cost efficient for traders, yet we need more diversity in approved land conversion practices for the diverse landowners and sites in the Chesapeake Region.

In particular, I think it is important to allow new tree based land conversions that retain revenue possibilities through low input and impact production such as native fruit and nut trees planted. Examples species native to Virginia include pawpaw, persimmon, black walnut, elderberry, and much more.  A system planted with edible products has both potential for timber, food, medicine, and wildlife habitat whereas the typical land conversion to pine only has timber and very limited wildlife benefit. This type of land conversion with edible and floral trees and shrubs can generally fit under agroforestry, the intentional integration of trees into agricultural systems for the benefits they can provide to our water, soil, and wildlife, while retaining opportunities for production (either for personal consumption or as part of a farm enterprise). There are six common temperate agroforestry practices, but three in particular are most appropriate because of their obvious benefits to water quality, these practices include: multifunctional riparian buffers, alley cropping, and multistory farming (aka food forests). 

Multifunctional riparian buffers resemble standard riparian buffers in form and function, but choose specific species for their production of useful and sellable non-timber forest products (e.g. fruits, nuts, florals). Alley cropping is the placing rows of trees (often on contour) between rows of annual crops so that the trees keep the soil in place and filter water in agricultural fields. Multistory cropping is similar in form and function to a forest, but includes tree and shrub species with useful and sellable non-timber forest products.

Including these agroforestry practices as approved land conversion opportunities would provide an option for landowners who want to participate in trading, but also want a system that will provide multiple benefits, including food. On a larger scale, integrating agroforestry practices into water quality credit trading could create a patchwork of riparian and upland food forests to contribute to food security and provide future generations throughout the Chesapeake Bay with a valuable resource beyond clean water.





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