Shifting cultivation is one of the oldest forms of subsistence agriculture and is still practised by millions of poor people in the tropics. Typically it involves clearing land (often forest) for the growing of crops for a few years, and then moving on to new sites, leaving the earlier ground fallow to regain its soil fertility. This book brings together the best of science and farmer experimentation, vividly illustrating the enormous diversity of shifting cultivation systems as well as the power of human ingenuity.
Some critics have tended to disparage shifting cultivation (sometimes called 'swidden cultivation' or 'slash-and-burn agriculture') as unsustainable due to its supposed role in deforestation and land degradation. However, the book shows that such indigenous practices, as they have evolved over time, can be highly adaptive to land and ecology. In contrast, 'scientific' agricultural solutions imposed from outside can be far more damaging to the environment and local communities.
The book focuses on successful agricultural strategies of upland farmers, particularly in south and south-east Asia, and presents over 50 contributions by scholars from around the world and from various disciplines, including agricultural economics, ecology and anthropology. It is a sequel to the much praised "Voices from the Forest: Integrating Indigenous Knowledge into Sustainable Upland Farming" (RFF Press, 2007), but all chapters are completely new and there is a greater emphasis on the contemporary challenges of climate change and biodiversity conservation.
"Modernity – the belief that what is newest is best – blinds us from recognizing the ecological knowledge and wisdom that suffuse traditional practices like swidden agriculture which encompass thousands of years of painstakingly accumulated knowledge and insights. With greater humility, we have much to learn." – David Suzuki.
"This book represents a multifaceted analysis of the transformation of shifting cultivation. The diverse views of a large team of experts are superbly knit together by the experienced editor to present an authoritative vision of what the future holds for not only shifting cultivation in the Asia-Pacific region, but subsistence farming the world over. The comprehensive book is very timely now when traditional farming systems are drastically impacted by environmental upheavals and economic realities – which could be an opportunity for reinvention rather than a threat of disruption." – P. K. Ramachandran Nair, Distinguished Professor, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.
"Those writing about shifting cultivation at the beginning of the modern era must have imagined it as a way of life unlikely to survive a few more decades. What has surprised many is less that it still exists, but that it is so resilient. This attractive and comprehensive book captures the diversity of adaptations, and celebrates the lives of the people involved. Malcolm Cairns is to be congratulated on seeing an awesome publishing project to a magnificent conclusion." – Roy Ellen, Centre for Biocultural Diversity, University of Kent, UK.
"The appearance of these collectively definitive volumes on swidden cultivation represents an intellectual event of great importance. Finally, a comprehensive account of the form of agriculture most widely practiced in world history; most responsible for changing landscapes, and most grievously misunderstood by high-modernist agriculture. So much to learn here, so much to digest, so much to ponder as we imagine a less catastrophic agricultural future." – James C. Scott, Sterling Professor of Political Science and Anthropology and Co-Director Program in Agrarian Studies, Yale University, USA.
"Once again Cairns has produced a magnus opus at least as valuable as the original: while the immediate impact may be less, the quality is surely even higher. And what makes it all the more remarkable is that the editor – with his constant team - has managed to bring this all together so cohesively from a position of considerable personal indisposition. Read the preface to find out what I mean: a compelling tale of adversity overcome by determination and perseverance." – Dr William Critchley, Pitlochry
"The multiple authors successfully argue in the first two sections that it is the preferred agricultural management system in many environments with respect to resilience to climate change and preservation of biodiversity. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers." – CHOICE, M. S. Coyne, University of Kentucky
"As the contributions to this volume demonstrate, understanding of the environmental and economic benefits of this system in comparison to modern agricultural systems has grown, but there is much still to be demonstrated to improve policy and support the farmer innovations that will enable shifting cultivators to adapt and survive into the future. This volume lays a broad and strong foundation for these efforts." - Danna J. Leaman, Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa, Canada
Part 1: Introduction
A) Overview Chapters: The Context in which this Book was Prepared
i) A Backwards Glance, Over Our Shoulders…
1. The View of Swidden Agriculture by the Early Naturalists, Linnaeus and Wallace
Michael R. Dove
2. Shifting Cultivators and the Landscape: An Essay through Time
3. Swiddens and Fallows: Reflections on the Global and Local Values of ‘Slash and Burn’
Carol J. Pierce Colfer, Janis B. Alcorn and Diane Russell
4. Agroforestry Pathways Revisited: Voices from the Past
John Raintree and Katherine Warner
5. Shifting Agriculture and its Changes in Yunnan Province, China
6. Swiddeners at the End of the Frontier: 50 years of Globalization in Northern Thailand, 1963 – 2013
ii) Looking towards the Future
7. The Future of Swidden Cultivation
Joseph A. Weinstock
8. Shifting Agriculture and Fallow Management Options: Where do we Stand?
P. S. Ramakrishnan
9. Chena Cultivation in Sri Lanka: Prospects for Agroforestry Interventions
Herath P. M. Gunasena and D. K. N. G. Pushpakumara
10. Learning from Migratory Agriculture around the World to Improve both Swidden and Modern Agriculture in Southeast Asia
11. Learning to Cope: Evergreen Agriculture Transformations and Insights Exchanged between Africa and Asia
Dennis P. Garrity
Part 2: Is Shifting Cultivation really the ‘Bogeyman’ of Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss?
A) Shifting Cultivation in an Era of Climate Change
12. Swidden Transitions in an Era of Climate Change Debate
Meine van Noordwijk, Peter A Minang and Kurniatun Hairiah
13. Climate Change Adaptation, Mitigation and Transformations of Shifting Cultivation Landscapes: Are we Throwing out the Baby with the Bathwater?
Kamal Aryal and Dhrupad Choudhury
14. Best REDD Scenario: Reducing Climate Change in Alliance with Swidden Communities and Indigenous Peoples in Southeast Asia
Janis B. Alcorn and Antoinette G. Royo
15. Earning Carbon Credits through Fallow Management on lands Affected by Shifting Cultivation in Northeast India
16. Formal and Indigenous Forest-Management Systems in Central Vietnam: Implications and Challenges for REDD+
Mucahid Mustafa Bayrak, Tran Nam Tu and Paul Burgers
17. Changing Strategies of Shifting Cultivators to Match a Changing Climate
18. Fallows and Flooding: A Case Study on the Potential Contribution of Fallows to Flood Mitigation
Peter D. Suson, Rex Victor O. Cruz, Ruth P. Serquiña, Nathaniel C. Bantayan, Daisy Lou L. Polestico and Jerson N. Orejudos
19. Dynamics of an Island Ecosystem: Where to Now?
Marjorie V. Cushing Falanruw and Francis Ruegorong
B) Is Shifting Cultivation Friend or Foe to Biodiversity?
20. Second thoughts on Secondary forests: Can Swidden Cultivation be Compatible with Conservation?
21. Biodiversity and Swidden Agroecosystems: An Analysis and some Implications
Percy E. Sajise
22. Shifting Cultivators, Curators of Forests and Conservators of Biodiversity: The Dayak of East Kalimantan, Indonesia
23. Fallow Management Practices among the Tangkhuls of Manipur: Safeguarding Provisioning and Regulatory Services from Shifting Cultivation Fallows
L. Jitendro Singh and Dhrupad Choudhury
24. Some Lesser Known Facts about jhum in Nagaland, Northeast India
Temjen Toy and POU (Project Operations Unit) Members
25. Plant Genetic Diversity in Farming Systems and Poverty Alleviation in Vietnam’s Northern Mountain Region
Tran Duc Vien, Vu Van Liet and Nguyen Thanh Lam
26. Experimenting with Change: Shifting Beliefs and Rice Varieties in Swidden Communities in Northern Laos
27. Is the ‘Bogeyman’ Real? Shifting Cultivation and the Forests, Papua New Guinea
Bryant Allen and Colin Filer
28. The End of swidden in Bhutan: Implications for Forest Cover and Biodiversity
Steve Siebert, Jill M. Belsky, Sangay Wangchuk and James Riddering
29. Valuation and Management of Forest Ecosystem Services: A Skill Well Exercised by the Forest People of Upper Nam Theun, Lao P.D.R
30. Benuaron: The Fruit Gardens of the Orang Rimba
Bambang Hariyadi and Dedi Harmoko
31. Ancestral Domain and National Park Potection: Mutually Supportive Paradigms? A Case Study of the Mt.Kitanglad Range Nature Park, Bukidnon, Philippines
32. Shifting Cultivation and Wildlife Sanctuaries in Ancestral Domains: Friend or Foe to Biodiversity Conservation?
Butch Dagondon and Easterluna Canoy
33. Missing Link of Forest Regeneration: Dwindling Shifting Cultivation from North Western Ghats
Archana Godbole, VJayant Sarnaik and Yogita Gokhale
34. Fallows and Forest Restoration
Kuswata Kartawinata and Rochadi Abdulhadi
35. Characteristics and Roles of Fallow and Riparian Forests in a Mountainous Region of Northern Laos
36. A Plant Resources Survey and Festival: A Community-based Approach to Biodiversity Education and Conservation
Venacio A. Acebedo, Lorna F. Acebedo and David M. Bates
37. Developing Information Systems on Indigenous Plant Resources in the Cordillera Administrative Region, Philippines
Damasa B. Magcale-Macandog, Edwin R. Abucay, Lorenza G. Lirio, Lito O. Ayyokad, Joyce N. Paing, Jovita E. Saguibo, Enesto T. Miguel and Marlyn Tombali
Part 3: Specialization for Markets or Continued Agrodiversity for Subsistence?
A) When Swidden Fallows Become the Domain of Commodity Crops
38. Oil Palm as a Productive Fallow? Swidden Change and new Opportunities in Smallholder Land Management
39. Where are the Swidden Fallows Now? An Overview of Oil Palm and Dayak Agriculture across Kalimantan, with Case Studies from Sanggau, in West Kalimantan
40. Busy People, Idle Land: The Changing Roles of swidden Fallows in Sarawak
41. Socially Constructed Rubber Plantations in the Swidden Landscape of Southwest China
Jianchu Xu and Zhuangfang Yi
42. Rubber Plantation, Swidden Agriculture and Indigenous Knowledge: A Case Study of a Bulang Village in Xishuangbanna, China
Lun-Yin, Dayuan Xue and Jing Wang
43. Impacts of Smallholder Rubber on Shifting Cultivation and Rural Livelihoods in Northern Laos
Vongpaphane Manivong and Rob Cramb
44. From Subsistence Swidden Fallows to Market-oriented Monoculture Production: Drivers of Land Use Change in the Lao PDR in the Context of Market Globalization
Paulo Pasicolan and Thatheva Saphangthong
45. Transformation of a Landscape: Shifting Cultivation, Biodiversity, and Tea
Janet C. Sturgeon
B) Shifting Cultivation on an Island Frontier: An Examination of the Main Swidden Communities in Palawan, the Philippines
Sub-edited by James Eder
46. Tree Crops, Fallow Management and Agricultural Settlement in the Cuyonon System of Shifting Cultivation
47. Governmental Pressures on Swidden Landscapes in Palawan Island, the Philippines
48. Rice-related Knowledge, Farming Strategies and the Transformation of Swiddens Amongst the Batak of Palawan island, the Philippines
Part 4: Conclusions
49. Gender Analysis: Shifting Cultivation and Indigenous People
Carol J. Pierce Colfer, Rebakah Daro Minarchek, Malcolm Cairns, Anungla Aier, Amity Doolittle, Valerie Mashman, Helen Hambly Odame, Michelle Roberts, Kathryn Robinson and Penny Van Esterik
50. The Bidayuh of Sarawak: Gender, Spirituality and Swiddens
Valerie Mashman and Patricia Nayoi
51. Cartoons about Shifting Cultivation: Using Humour to Emphasize some Important Points
A. Terry Rambo