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Improving lives by solving problems in agriculture and the environment

Living with the Trees of Life

Living with the Trees of Life

Towards the Transformation of Tropical Agriculture

By R Leakey, formerly James Cook University, Australia

July 2012 / Hardback / 224 Pages / 9781780640990 £61.99 / €83.00 / $119.95
With 10% online discount: £55.79 / €74.70 / $107.96
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July 2012 / Paperback / 224 Pages / 9781780640983 £27.50 / €35.00 / $52.50
With 10% online discount: £24.75 / €31.50 / $47.25
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Main Description

Based on the career of Roger Leakey, the former Director of Research at the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry, this book presents the experiences of real life situations in rural villages of remote and distant places. Living with the Trees of Life demonstrates how the multi-disciplinary science of agroforestry, which embraces biology, genetics, ecology, agronomy, horticulture, forestry, soil science, food science, and the social sciences, can offer hope from the doom and gloom often emanating from the tropics. Written in an accessible and engaging style that will appeal to both a professional and general readership, this book takes a more positive approach to the issues facing agriculture and highlights an innovative approach to resolving the big issues of poverty, malnutrition, hunger and environmental degradation including climate change.

  • 1: Revelations in Kumba
  • 2: The Big Global Issues
  • 3: Journeys of Discovery in Agroforestry
  • 4: Diversity and Function in Farming Systems
  • 5: Finding the Trees of Life
  • 6: Selecting the Best Trees
  • 7: Vegetative Propagation
  • 8: Case Studies from the Pacific
  • 9: Marketing Tree Products
  • 10: Redirecting Agriculture - Going Multifunctional
  • 11: Multifunctional Agriculture - Proof of Concept
  • 12: The Convenient Truths
If there is anyone who has worked on more tropical tree species, in more tropical countries and written more scientific articles on tropical development than Roger Leakey then we have yet to meet them. So who better to compile this superb compendium of the experiences, ideas and impacts concerning the role of trees in tropical smallholders’ lives. Roger’s passion, scientific logic and successes shine through this masterful prose about agroforestry showing how the integration of trees in farms can have economic, environmental and social benefits. Trees are one of the few organisms that outlive humans, and like trees this book is a wonderful inter-generational gift. Read it now and pass it on to your descendants.

Prof Tony Simons, Director General, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and Honorary Professor of Tropical Forestry, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

"In 'Living with the Trees of Life', Roger Leakey brings agroforestry to life, in a unique style. He couples the importance of producing the tree products needed for life with their role in farming systems as promoters of environmental and ecosystem services. Roger expertly bridges the divide that often exists between trees in forests and trees on farms based on his vast experience of research in the tropics. Roger profiles a number of success stories in the domestication of wild forest species within agricultural systems, demonstrating the role of farmers in the process and the contributions that these on-farm trees make to the livelihoods of the farmers. This book is a ‘must read’ for all advocates of sustainable agriculture, and of tropical forestry and agroforestry. The lively and easy style in which the book is written will also make it of interest to non-professionals. I recommend the book strongly."

Dr Kwesi Atta-Krah, Deputy Director General, Bioversity International, Rome, Italy.

"Roger Leakey has given a great gift to the tropical forests he loves and which he has dedicated his life to protecting and nurturing. He has written a book which frankly "kicks ass", using his mastery of science to tell a story of hope built on research and application that isn't rooted in a childlike romantic world of pristine Eden - the battleground between good and evil, conservation versus development. This is a story about people and the potential for making sustainable livelihoods in the tropics while at the same time stewarding this priceless resource on which the whole world depends for its services. Rarely does a book come along that you want to thrust into people's hands shouting "read this". This book should be compulsory reading not just for the NGOs, governments and individuals championing initiatives to protect the rainforest, it should be read by all those who want to wake up in the morning feeling that here is a challenge worth championing, a cause which can show that Homo sapiens is indeed a wise hominid and that it's time has come to prove it. A triumph."

Tim Smit KBE, Chief Executive, The Eden Project, Bodelva, St Blazey, Cornwall, England

"Trees play an important role in many people's lives, yet the history of international development suggests this simple fact has largely been ignored in the past. Roger Leakey has helped place trees at the centre of rural development efforts in many tropical countries, benefitting many people in the process. Roger is something of a visionary, and this inspirational book presents powerful evidence of what can be achieved through a lifetime's dedication, hard work and by building a multidisciplinary team".

Prof Adrian Newton, Professor of Conservation Science, University of Bournemouth, England

"Part personal journey, part scientific biography this book charts the evolution of agroforestry from an under-researched traditional farming practice to an interdisciplinary and transformative approach to agriculture. Roger Leakey's passion to use science to improve rural livelihoods shines through as does his conviction that domestication of indigenous trees lies at the heart of our ability to feed the world's growing population in a sustainable manner. Read it and be inspired!"

Dr Kate Schreckenberg, Coordinator, Centre for Underutilised Crops, University of Southampton, Southampton, England

"Modern global society is coming to the realization that we need more trees to meet the challenges of mitigating the climate changes that we created. Roger Leakey shows the way to getting these trees to contribute to this challenge, while also getting them to do much much more, making his proposal a win-win-win option for global society, especially for the currently underdeveloped tropics. If you read only one book this year about the challenges facing global society, this is the one for you!"

Dr Charles Clement, National Research Institute for Amazonia, Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil.

"Roger Leakey outlines a simple and effective strategy for sustainable living in the tropics, home to almost half of the world's population and to some of the fastest growing countries in the world. We cannot afford to ignore the principal message that unfolds as a legacy of Roger's rich experience in agroforestry: that we can empower the peoples of developing tropical economies with productive, and socially and environmentally sustainable strategies to ensure a brighter future for all"

Prof Paul Gadek, Centre for Tropical Agri-Tech Research, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia

"Summarizing decades of his pioneering research and field work throughout the tropics, Roger Leakey validates the integrated use of trees in agricultural systems for sustainable food production, ecosystem management, and income generation. Based on his personal journey he presents solutions for reversing patterns of land degradation, climate change and poverty. Living with the Trees of Life presents practical, common sense solutions that will uplift and empower farmers, educators, assistance providers, and policymakers.

Craig Elevitch, Director, Agroforestry Net, Hawaii, USA
"I am constantly looking for books for my students that are entertaining to read, inspirational but with plenty of well argued content. Such books are rare, but Roger Leakey has succeeded in writing one on Agroforestry." – Prof Jeff Sayer, International Forestry Review

"In short, Leakey’s work is a book that a committed (young) scientist interested in development, but with both feet on the ground, could significantly benefit from." – Daniel Callo-Concha, Journal of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Tropics and Subtropics, Vol. 114, No. 1 (2013) 77–78

"Powered by an almost boyish enthusiasm for this field of study, Leakey aims to improve the lives of subsistence farmers in the tropics, particularly in Africa. To accomplish this, he listens to villagers wherever he goes, noting their concerns and dreams, and then advises them on an application of agroforestry that is appropriate to the situation". – Heifer International