Chapter : 1. Forest Society and Colonialism
Affect Of Forest Policy On Cultivation
The major type of cultivation practice used in forest areas of the world is known as slash and burn, shifting or swidden agriculture. It has been practiced by the forest societies of almost all the regions and climates of the world.
1. Under this system the plots to be burned are identified and all the plants and foliage in it are left to dry after cutting them down. The dry vegetation is then burnt after a month or so. Burning removes the vegetation and releases nutrients which fertilise the soil. The most interesting aspect is that this plot of land is then used for cultivation for upto 5 years, after which. it is again left fellow for the purpose of regaining declined fertility or for forest to regrow. This method is also more effective when two or more crops that complement each other are grown. Slash and burn requires a low population density, as the recovery of forest may take decades.
2. On the other hand increase in population causes ecological problems and may lead to increased pressure on land. This method has been in use in different parts of the world from. Northern Europe to Southeast Asia and South America. But it has been replaced by other methods almost every where. It is still practiced in some isolated parts of Mexico, Colombia, India, Indo-china and Madagascar. Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines aim to identify alternatives to slash-and-burn by providing viable policy, institutional, and technological land use options that can improve local livelihoods and preserve the region’s remaining forests.
3. European foresters regarded this practice as harmful for the forests. They felt that land which was used for cultivation every few years could not grow trees for railway timber. When a forest was burnt, there was the added danger of the flames spreading and burning valuable timber. Shifting cultivation also made it harder for the government to calculate taxes. Therefore, the government decided to ban shifting cultivation. As a result, many communities were forcibly displaced from their homes in the forests. Some had to change occupations, while some resisted through large and small rebellions.
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