Agroforestry Ecology (AGRO-FOR-CARE)

The exponential growth of human population has resulted in a growing demand for agroforestry goods, which are often obtained by unsustainable exploitation. The extreme exploitation of agroforestry systems often neglects food security and safety, e.g. by using chemical pesticides, which could have important implications on human well-being, economies and societies. For that reason, the overarching goal of this research group will be to contribute: i) to advance the practice of pests and diseases biological control and ii) to explore the biotech potential of mycorrhizae fungi within agroforestry systems, thereby reducing the environmental impact of chemical pesticides, enhancing ecosystem productivity and health, and promoting the long-term sustainability of agroforestry systems in the Azores.

  • To develop and promote integrated pest management (IPM) in agroforestry systems viewing the sustainable control of the major pests and diseases, through cultural, biotech and/or biological control methods;
  • To advance knowledge on the potential of native natural enemies as biological control agents, viewing its use in IPM and/or its optimization to mass-rearing at industrial scales, promoting by this way local economy;
  • To contribute to the development of metabolites as a sustainable solution against major pest and diseases, in close collaboration with other research groups, namely the Nat_Prod_Appl group;
  • To investigate and develop the best practices to ensure food security and safety regarding the acquisition and consumption of local and imported agricultural goods;
  • To develop risk assessment and contingency plans regarding the introduction of new pests and diseases and monitor the spread of the major pests and diseases already recorded in the Azores.