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Every year about 130 000 km2 of humid tropical rain forest is destroyed. Caused in part by the slash-and-burn practices of both large- and small-scale farmers in Brazil, Cameroon, Indonesia, and elsewhere, the environmental implications of tropical deforestation and its threat to biodiversity and carbon emissions remain a worldwide concern. Yet the small-scale farmers who use slash-and-burn agriculture depend on it to produce food and make a living for their families. Balancing the legitimate interests of rural households and global concerns about tropical deforestation is one of the major challenges of the coming decades.
The Alternatives to Slash and Burn (ASB) consortium was formed in 1992 by a group of concerned national and international research institutions to address the global and local issues associated with this form of agriculture. With contributions from agronomists, foresters, economists, ecologists, and anthropologists, this book synthesizes the first decade of ASB's work. It assesses the environmental, economic, and social impact of deforestation and identifies the costs and benefits of alternative uses of forests and cleared land. Throughout the volume, the contributors present new conceptual tools and a rich compendium of empirical analyses needed to formulate viable alternatives to slash-and-burn agriculture.
Cheryl A. Palm is senior research scientist, the Earth Institute at Columbia University; Stephen A. Vosti is associate director, Center for Natural Resources Policy Analysis, University of California-Davis; Pedro A. Sanchez is director of Tropical Agriculture, the Earth Institute at Columbia University; Polly J. Ericksen is a science officer fellow with the Global Environmental Change and Food Systems.
"This book [...] offers a detailed analysis of the many dimensions of deforestation."
– New Agriculturist
"The book is rich in conceptual tools, empirical analyses, and alternatives [...] I highly recommend it."
– Raymond P. Poincelot, Journal of Sustainable Agriculture
"An important synthesis of research arising from the 1992 creation of the Alternatives to Slash and Burn (ASB) consortium."
– Gary S. Hartshorn, Bioscience
"The book is worth reading. It is a cornucopia of facts, hypotheses, research approaches, thoughts and examples exciting for scientists."
– Manfred Denich, Environmental Conservation
"Forest scientists of all disciplines [...] would benefit by reading this book."
– John Klock, Economic Botany
"This remarkable volume addresses the sustainable management of tropical forests with unstinting sophistication, moving the analysis beyond clichés to the true complexities of the challenge [...] [It] is a landmark on the path to sustainable development."
– Jeffrey Sachs, from the foreword to Slash-and-Burn Agriculture