Rehabilitation of degraded forests in Asia, Volumes 23-270 by Ajit Kumar Banerjee

By Ajit Kumar Banerjee

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Shortening the jhum cycle to the current 530 years is resulting in colonization by weeds (many exotic) and desertification (despite high rainfall). 6 million people (Atal 1984). Indonesia. In Indonesia, all major islands have forest areas cultivated by the swidden method (called ladang). The forests involved are Imperata grass areas, tidal swamps, upland forests and savannahs. An estimated 1 million families are involved. Estimates of the area cultivated vary widely, from 33 million hectares (Atal 1984) to 11 million hectares (World Bank data).

All of these areas cover an estimated 181,000 hectares (Blower 1985). Papua New Guinea. Large parts of the secondary forests of Papua New Guinea are under shifting cultivation. A typical swidden farm (called ganden) has fruit plants such as Pometia pinnata and Artocarpus atilis in the top canopy; food crops such as cane sugar, bananas, and taro in the middle canopy; and yam as the undercover (Allen 1985). Usually the cultivation period is 18 months for yams and a few years for bananas, after which the land lies fallow for 30 years.

Taking on the challenge now rather than later would not only save the land from further degradation, increase forest benefits, and improve the economic status of the people living in or near the forest, it would also cost less than if the work were delayed. Therefore, international development agencies and national policymakers would do well to give priority to the job and allocate appropriate resources for it. In Asia, a working definition of degraded forest areas is: shifting cultivation areas, Imperata grasslands, low-profile hacked forests, and overlogged forests.

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