Sustainable Alternatives to Slash and Burn Agriculture and the Reclamation of Degraded Lands in the Humid Tropics.

TitleSustainable Alternatives to Slash and Burn Agriculture and the Reclamation of Degraded Lands in the Humid Tropics.
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication1993
AuthorsSanchez P, Garrity D, Bandy D,
InstitutionInternational Centre for Research in Agroforestry
CityNairobi, Kenya
Call NumberRP0026-04
Keywordscultivation, Deforestation, economic, global warming, slash and burn, Tropical forests
AbstractSlash and Burn agriculture (shifting cultivation) accounts for about 50 to 75 % of the 14 million hectares of moist tropical forests currently converted every year. Tropical deforestation is responsible for 25 % of current global warming, for most of the decimation of plant and animal genetic diversity, and threathens the stability of many watersheds. Rates of deforestation have doubled over the last two decades they are likely to continue increasing and to contribute a relatively larger proportion of global warming. Shifting cultivation is a consequence of complex socioeconomic factors that drive poor farmers and migrants into the forest margins. Sustainable alternatives to slash and burn would enable millions of poor farmers to make an adequate living without destroying additional forests. Research conducted at several humid tropical locations for many years shows hope; for every hectare put into promising. Alternatives, five to ten hectares of tropical rainforest can be spared from the shifting cultivator's axe every year. Such alternatives must be throughly tested and validated so that they are accepted and adopted by farmers on large scale. A concerted effort among socioeconomic, agricultural, ecological, and policy scientist and developers has started with partial funding from the Global Environmental Facility to assure that this happens. This effort involves farmer participation from the beginning, as well markers and decision markers. Several international centres and programs have joined efforts with national research system (NARS) as well as non govermental organizations (NGOs) to formulate this initiative. The strategy focuses on two main targets: 1) reclamation of already deforested and degraded lands and 2) prevention of damage by deforestation itself. The strategy consists of three main components: 1) developing and testing alternatives slash and burn technologies for small scale farms adapted to specific ecoregions of the humid tropics, 2) linking environmentallt oriented strategies with socioeconomic policies that provide incentives for such technologies and disincentives to further deforestation, and 3) enhancing the capacity of NARS, local NGOs, decisions maker and investment institutions to promote sustainable alternatives to slash and burn agriculture.