Agroforestry, the planting and protection of trees and tree like plants as integral components of a polycultural agricultural system, has always been central to the
economic, cultural and ecological stability of the Kiribati society. This paper focuses on Kiribati agroforestry, and on the role trees play as: 1) integral components of polycultural agricultural systems; 2) symbols of stability and cultural wellbeing; 3) sources of a diverse range of subsistence and commercial products, the imported substitutes for which would be either too expensive or unavailable to most people; and
4) ecologically important components of agricultural systems which, if lost, would lead to irreversible environmental degradation and resultant cultural deterioration. Two
islands of Kiribati, Tarawa and Abemama serve as case studies of Kiribati village- level agroforestry. The findings are based on a ten-day reconnaissance survey of agroforestry on Tarawa and Abemama in 1984, a subsequent visit in early 1989, and
a survey of the available literature.