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Citation Information

Type Conference Paper - VII Congresso Portugues de Sociologia 2012
Title The impact of shifting cultivation in the forestry ecosystems of timor-leste
Author(s)
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2012
URL https://dspace.uevora.pt/rdpc/bitstream/10174/7094/1/PAP0370_ed_APS.pdf
Abstract
Every year thousands of hectares of forest are destructed as a result of the practice of swidden
agriculture, shifting cultivation or "slush and burn" causing changes in forest ecosystems. In TimorLeste
shifting cultivation is still practiced nowadays as a form of subsistence agriculture.
Swidden agriculture is characterized by slash and burn clearing, by a rotation of fields rather than of
crops, and by short periods of cropping (1-3 years) alternating with long fallow periods.
Based on the characterization of shifting cultivation in two Sucos of Bobonaro district, a reflection is
made on the impact of this practice in the sustainable development of forest ecosystems of TimorLeste.
Primary data collection was performed using a questionnaire survey of farmers practicing shifting
cultivation. The questionnaire characterized shifting cultivation, and asked farmers’ opinion on slash
and burning of forest areas and on the importance of forests.
According to the results obtained, in most situations the existing vegetation before the slash was
composed of dense forest, the slash is made by the family group, the majority of farmers have been
doing the “slush and burn” for more than ten years and the size of the plots where slash is made is less
than 2 hectares. The materials resulting from the slash are used for firewood, building materials and
fencing. The burning of vegetable residues is done before planting and soil preparation and sowing is
done with a lever. Land and forest, despite having an individual use, have a tenure regime of
ownership and access in which its nature of common pool good prevails. Every year thousands of
hectares of forest are destructed as a result of the practice of swidden agriculture, shifting cultivation
or "slush and burn" causing changes in forest ecosystems. In Timor-Leste shifting cultivation is still
practiced nowadays as a form of subsistence agriculture.

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