Does Tree Diversity Affect Soil Fertility? Initial Findings from Fallow Systems in West Kalimantan

Intensification of management to achieve more efficient and productive fallows in the uplands of Southeast Asia is likely to alter the species composition and structure of the tree community in traditional fallows. Consequent changes in nutrient cycling may compromise the sustainability of these systems, as well as the future productivity of the land. Therefore, understanding the influence of the tree community on nutrient dynamics is critical to formulating long-term solutions to fallow degradation, especially in systems with low potential inputs of capital and labor.

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Ecological Problems Due to Shifting Cultivation

The current practice of shifting cultivation in eastern and north eastern regions of India is an extravagant and unscientific form of land use. The evil effects of shifting cultivation are devastating and far-reaching in degrading the environment and ecology of these regions. The earlier 15–20 year cycle of shifting cultivation on a particular land has reduced to 2–3 years now. This has resulted in large-scale deforestation, soil and nutrient loss, and invasion by weeds and other species. The indigenous biodiversity has been affected to a large extent. To mitigate the environmental loss and to provide other alternatives of livelihood to the local population, we have made an attempt in this paper to suggest environmental management options for shifting cultivation areas.

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Shifting Cultivation in Bhutan: A Gradual Approach to Modifying Land Use

The "problem" of shifting cultivation, which is accused of destroying forest resources, being uneconomical, leading to destruction of watersheds, erosion, desertification, etc., has already been the subject of two other case studies in this series (numbers 6 and 8). Those two studies tended to defend the view that the practice can be conserved for the time being in its traditional forms rather than being eliminated The present case study, however, is built around the concept that under the present circumstances of social and economic change, shifting cultivation is not a viable solution in the long run. Therefore, the author, Kumar P. Upadhyay, an FAO forestry expert working in South Asia, examines ways in which the practice could be gradually phased out.

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From Shifting Cultivation to Agroforestry in the Mountain Areas of Yunnan Tropics


Besides outlining the limitations of agricultural development in mountain areas of Yunnan Province, China, shifting cultivation, agroforestry and pure crop plantation are the three major farm systems that are common in the province are relatively discussed and the periodic rotations made between trees and crops are explained.

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Slash-and-Burn Agriculture - Shifting Cultivation

The slash-and-burn method differs from a much more ancient system known as shifting cultivation. Shifting cultivation has long been used by humans for subsistence agriculture  in tropical forests worldwide, and variants of this system are known as swidden in Africa, as caingin in the Philippines, as milpa in Central America, and by other local names elsewhere. The major difference between the slash-and-burn system and shifting cultivation is in the length of time  for which the land is used for agriculture. In the slash-and-burn system, the conversion is long-term, often permanent. Shifting cultivation is a more ephemeral use of the land for cultivation

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