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Encyclopedia > Slash and burn
Slash and burn practices in Finland in 1892
Slash and burn practices in Finland in 1892

Slash and burn refers to the cutting and burning of forests or woodlands to create fields for agriculture or pasture for livestock, or for a variety of other purposes. It is sometimes part of shifting cultivation agriculture, and of transhumance livestock herding. For the computer game, see Scorched Earth (computer game). ... Image File history File links Slashing-and-burning. ... Image File history File links Slashing-and-burning. ... This article is about a community of trees. ... Limber Pine woodland, Toiyabe Range, central Nevada Biologically, a woodland is a treed area differentiated from a forest. ... Pastureland Pasture is land with lush herbaceous vegetation cover used for grazing of ungulates as part of a farm or ranch. ... Sheep are commonly bred as livestock. ... Shifting cultivation is an agricultural system in which plots of land are cultivated temporarily, then abandoned. ... Transhumance is the seasonal movement of livestock between mountainous and lowland pastures. ...


Historically, the practice of slash and burn has been widely practiced throughout most of the world, in grasslands as well as woodlands, and known by many names. In temperate regions, such as Europe and North America, the practice has been mostly abandoned over the past few centuries. Today the term is mainly associated with tropical forests. For the usage in virology, see temperate (virology). ... For other uses, see Europe (disambiguation). ... North America North America is a continent[1] in the Earths northern hemisphere and (chiefly) western hemisphere. ... A noontime scene from the Philippines on a day when the Sun is almost directly overhead. ...


Older English terms for slash and burn include assarting, swidden, and fire-fallow cultivation. Assarting is the act of clearing forested lands for use in agriculture or other purposes. ...


Slash and burn is a specific functional element of certain farming practices, often shifting cultivation systems. In some cases such as parts of Madagascar, slash and burn may have no cyclical aspects (e.g some slash and burn activities can render soils incapable of further yields for generations), or may be practiced on its own as a single cycle farming activity with no follow on cropping cycle. Shifting cultivation normally implies the existence of a cropping cycle component, whereas slash-and-burn actions may or may not be followed by cropping. In medieval England, this practice was the worst offense that could be committed in a forest.[citation needed] Shifting cultivation is an agricultural system in which plots of land are cultivated temporarily, then abandoned. ... The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times. ... For other uses, see England (disambiguation). ... This article is about a community of trees. ...

Contents

Slash-and-burn defined

Burned farmland near Santa Fé (Veraguas Province), Panamá.
Burned farmland near Santa Fé (Veraguas Province), Panamá.

An area of primary or secondary forest is selected, and the vegetation is cut and allowed to dry. Large trees are often girdled and allowed to die standing. Some trees are often left standing, especially those viewed as useful, such as food producing trees like chestnuts or economically valuable trees like teak. Portions of the cut timber or saplings are often gathered to use for firewood or to make charcoal. After some period of time (a week to a few months) the residual dry vegetation is burned. Plots are cultivated for a few seasons (usually one to five years) and then abandoned as fertility declines and weeds invade. Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (2034x1065, 316 KB) To the south of Santa Fé (Veraguas Province), Panamá. For a slightly cropped version with the left side removed see Image:DirkvdM santa fe scorched-crop. ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (2034x1065, 316 KB) To the south of Santa Fé (Veraguas Province), Panamá. For a slightly cropped version with the left side removed see Image:DirkvdM santa fe scorched-crop. ... Santa Fé is the name of a town in the province of Veraguas in Panamá. It lies at an altitude of about 1000 m, in the centre of an old crater. ... The forest in Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada is generally considered to have second and third growth characteristics. ... Vegetation is a general term for the plant life of a region; it refers to the ground cover provided by plants, and is, by far, the most abundant biotic element of the biosphere. ... Girdling refers to the process of removing much of the bark around a trees outer circumference in an effort to cause its death. ... Species Castanea alnifolia - Bush Chinkapin* Castanea crenata - Japanese Chestnut Castanea dentata - American Chestnut Castanea henryi - Henrys Chestnut Castanea mollissima - Chinese Chestnut Castanea ozarkensis - Ozark Chinkapin Castanea pumila - Allegheny Chinkapin Castanea sativa - Sweet Chestnut Castanea seguinii - Seguins Chestnut * treated as a synonym of by many authors Chestnut is a... Species Tectona grandis Tectona hamiltoniana Tectona philippinensis Teak (Tectona), is a genus of tropical hardwood trees in the family Verbenaceae, native to the south and southeast of Asia, and is commonly found as a component of monsoon forest vegetation. ... This article is about the biological organisms known as trees. ... Wood burning is the largest current use of biomass derived energy. ... Charcoal is the blackish residue consisting of impure carbon obtained by removing water and other volatile constituents from animal and vegetation substances. ... Soil fertility is the characteristic of soil that supports abundant plant life. ...


Such abandoned plots often become used as pasture for livestock. If the forest is allowed to recover, pasture become rough pasture for a while. Recovering woodlands are sometimes treated as "fallow" land, to be subjected to another round of slash and burn in the future.[1] Rough pasture is non-intensive grazing pasture, commonly found on poor soils, especially in hilly areas, throughout the world. ...


Burning removes the vegetation and may release a pulse of nutrients to fertilize the soil. Ash also increases the pH of the soil, a process which makes certain nutrients (especially phosphorus) more available in the short term. Burning also drives off, temporarily, soil microorganisms, pests, and established plants long enough for crops to be planted in the ashes. Before artificial fertilizers were available, fire was one of the most widespread methods of fertilization.[2] Vegetation is a general term for the plant life of a region; it refers to the ground cover provided by plants, and is, by far, the most abundant biotic element of the biosphere. ... A nutrient is either a chemical element or compound used in an organisms metabolism or physiology. ... For other uses, see PH (disambiguation). ... General Name, symbol, number phosphorus, P, 15 Chemical series nonmetals Group, period, block 15, 3, p Appearance waxy white/ red/ black/ colorless Standard atomic weight 30. ...


Slash and burn requires a relatively low human population density or a continuing supply of new "frontier" lands, since the recovery of forests may require many decades or even human generations.


One of the possible side effects is erosion. For example, most of the Madagascar central highlands plateau is permanently rendered infertile and unproductive, due to large scale erosion that resulted from the adverse surface runoff deriving from the practice of slash-and-burn.[citation needed] For morphological image processing operations, see Erosion (morphology). ... For other uses, see Plateau (disambiguation). ... For morphological image processing operations, see Erosion (morphology). ... Runoff flowing into a stormwater drain Surface runoff is water, from rain, snowmelt, or other sources, that flows over the land surface, and is a major component of the water cycle[1][2]. Runoff that occurs on surfaces before reaching a channel is also called overland flow. ...


Various forms of slash-and-burn have been used in nearly every forested environment, from the temperate coniferous forests of Northern Europe (e.g., Svedjebruk in Russia, Finland, Sweden, and Norway) to the tropical moist broadleaf forests of Indochina and the Amazon Rainforest. Much of the temperate forest cutting was followed by sustainable grazing or crop rotation practices. An almost total conversion of forests to farmland and pasture has occurred in many temperate regions, such as England. In many tropical forests, sustainable forms of slash and burn have been practiced for millennia, but population growth and large-scale industrial logging, among other factors, have made traditional slash and burn practices less sustainable and more likely to result in catastrophic wildfires.[3] Pine forests are an example of a temperate coniferous forests Temperate coniferous forests are a terrestrial biome found in temperate regions of the world with warm summers and cool winters and adequate rainfall to sustain a forest. ... For other uses, see Europe (disambiguation). ... Svedjebruk is a term for slash-burn agriculture which derives from the Swedish term sviða meaning to burn. ... Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests, also known as tropical rain forests, are a tropical and subtropical biome. ... Indochina 1886 Indochina, or the Indochinese Peninsula, is a region in Southeast Asia. ... Map of the Amazon rainforest ecoregions as delineated by the WWF. Yellow line encloses the Amazon rainforest. ... Satellite image of circular crop fields in Haskell County, Kansas in late June 2001. ...


Roar?


Historical background

During the Neolithic Revolution, or "new stone age revolution" which included agricultural advancements, groups of prehistoric humans started domesticating various plants and animals, shifting from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle toward agriculture and pastoralism. The origins of domestication are not known. One theory is that it was mainly due to the end of the Ice Age (ie. about 9-11,000 years ago), resulting in the extinction of many of prehistoric man's game, such as the wooly mammoth. Due to this decrease in food from hunting, some groups started to turn to agriculture. Some groups could easily plant their seeds in open fields, but others had forests blocking their farming land. Since Neolithic times, slash and burn techniques have been widely used for converting forests into crop fields and pasture.[4] Fire was used before the Neolithic as well, and by hunter-gatherers up to present times. Clearings created by fire were made for many reasons, such as to draw game animals and to promote certain kinds of edible plants such as berries and mushrooms. The Neolithic Revolution is the term for the first agricultural revolution, describing the transition from nomadic hunting and gathering communities and bands, to agriculture and settlement, as first adopted by various independent prehistoric human societies, in numerous locations on most continents between 10-12 thousand years ago. ... In anthropology, the hunter-gatherer way of life is that led by certain societies of the Neolithic Era based on the exploitation of wild plants and animals. ... Variations in CO2, temperature and dust from the Vostok ice core over the last 400 000 years For the animated movie, see Ice Age (movie). ... This article is about the extinct mammal. ...


Assessments of slash-and-burn

Slash-and-burn agriculture is usually labeled as ecologically destructive, but it may be workable when practiced by small populations in large forests, where fields have sufficient time to recover before again being slashed, burned, and cultivated. Given the present worldwide high population densities, it is not common to find such conditions. It is also more effective when used in mixed plots, with more than one crop (usually two or more plant species that complement each other's growth) being planted at or around the same time. Even when relatively small populations practice slash-and-burn agriculture, as in the eastern Madagascar rainforests, the cumulative effect has been destructive of the forest integrity, because of the slow regeneration times and the large number of vulnerable and endangered species. Problems with ecological unsustainability can arise with significant increases of population, leading to increased pressure on the land and failure to let fields lie fallow for enough time, as has been seen in the late 20th century in parts of the rainforests of Mexico and Brazil. For the journal, see Ecology (journal). ... Map of countries by population density (See List of countries by population density. ... A crop is any plant that is grown in significant quantities to be harvested as food, livestock fodder, or for another economic purpose. ... For other uses, see Species (disambiguation). ... Growing the same crop repeatedly in the same place eventually depletes the soil of various nutrients. ... (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s As a means of recording the passage of time, the 20th century was that century which lasted from 1901–2000 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar (1900–1999... The Daintree Rainforest in Queensland, Australia. ...


Slash and burn has been replaced by other methods in most temperate zones. It is still practiced in some parts of Mexico, South America, Indonesia, India and Indochina. It is common in parts of Africa such as Zambia and southern DR Congo where it is known as chitemene, and in Madagascar, where it is known as tavy. A number of countries have established Biodiversity Action Plans that address the effect of human activities on the environment, and biodiversity in particular. Some, such as that of Australia, proscribe slash and burn practices. South America South America is a continent crossed by the equator, with most of its area in the Southern Hemisphere. ... Indochina 1886 Indochina, or the Indochinese Peninsula, is a region in Southeast Asia. ... Diademed Sifaka, an endangered primate of Madagascar Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) is a an internationally recognized programme addressing threatened species or habitats, which is designed to protect and restore biological systems. ... Rainforests are among the most biodiverse ecosystems on earth Biodiversity is the variation of taxonomic life forms within a given ecosystem, biome or for the entire Earth. ...


Since the 1990s, a rise in the use of slash and burn agriculture to plant coca, marijuana and opium poppy as part of the illegal drugs trade has contributed to a yearly deforestation of more than 100,000 acres (400 km²) in Colombia. For other uses, see Coca (disambiguation). ... Cannabis, also known as marijuana[1] or ganja,[2] is a psychoactive product of the plant Cannabis sativa L. subsp. ... Binomial name L. The opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, is the type of poppy from which opium and all refined opiates such as morphine, thebaine, codeine, papaverine, and noscapine are extracted. ... These lollipops, above, were found to contain heroin when inspected by the US Drug Enforcement Administration In jurisdictions where legislation restricts or prohibits the sale of certain popular drugs, it is common for an illegal drugs trade to develop. ... This article is about the process of deforestation in the environment. ...


Ecological implications

Although a dilemma for overpopulated tropical countries where subsistence farming may be the easiest method of sustaining many families, the consequences of slash-and-burn techniques to ecosystems are almost always deleterious when practiced on a large scale. The principal vulnerability is the nutrient-poor soil, pervasive in most tropical forests. When biomass is extracted even for one harvest of wood or charcoal, the residual soil value is heavily diminished for further growth of any type of vegetation. Sometimes there are several cycles of slash-and-burn within a few years time span; for example in eastern Madagascar the following scenario occurs commonly. The first wave might be cutting of all trees for wood use. A few years later, saplings are harvested to make charcoal, and within the next year the plot is burned to create a quick flush of nutrients for grass to feed the family zebu. If adjacent plots are treated in a similar fashion, large scale erosion will usually ensue, since there are no roots or temporary water storage in nearby canopies to arrest the surface runoff. Thus, any small remaining amounts of nutrients are washed away. The area is an example of desertification, and no further growth of any type may arise for generations. Map of countries by population density (See List of countries by population density. ... Like most farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, this Cameroonian man cultivates at the subsistence level. ... In ecology, an ecosystem is a community of organisms (plant, animal and other living organisms - also referred as biocenose) together with their environment (or biotope), functioning as a unit. ... A nutrient is either a chemical element or compound used in an organisms metabolism or physiology. ... Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests, also known as tropical rain forests, are a tropical and subtropical biome. ... Trinomial name Bos primigenius indicus Linnaeus, 1758 Zebus (Bos primigenius indicus), sometimes known as humped cattle, are better-adapted to tropical environments than other domestic cattle. ... Runoff flowing into a stormwater drain Surface runoff is water, from rain, snowmelt, or other sources, that flows over the land surface, and is a major component of the water cycle[1][2]. Runoff that occurs on surfaces before reaching a channel is also called overland flow. ... Ship stranded by the retreat of the Aral Sea Desertification is the degradation of land in arid, semi arid and dry sub-humid areas resulting from various climatic variations, but primarily from human activities. ...


The ecological ramifications of the above scenario are further magnified, because tropical forests are habitats for extremely biologically diverse ecosystems, typically containing large numbers of endemic and endangered species. Therefore, the role of slash-and-burn is significant in the current Holocene extinction event occurring on the planet Earth. Rainforests are among the most biodiverse ecosystems on earth Biodiversity is the variation of taxonomic life forms within a given ecosystem, biome or for the entire Earth. ... In biology and ecology endemic means exclusively native to a place or biota, in contrast to cosmopolitan or introduced. ... The Siberian Tiger is a subspecies of tiger that are critically endangered. ... The Dodo, a bird of Mauritius, became extinct during the mid-late 17th century after humans destroyed the forests where the birds made their homes and introduced animals that ate their eggs. ...


Trivia

Eero Järnefelt has painted the famous painting The Wage Slaves (Raatajat rahanalaiset or Kaski, 1893, External link) about slash-and-burn agriculture. Eero Erik Nikolai Järnefelt (1863 - 1937) was a Finnish realist painter. ... Year 1893 (MDCCCXCIII) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Tuesday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar). ...


See also

This article is about the process of deforestation in the environment. ... Milpa is a crop-growing system in the Yucatán peninsula area of Mexico. ... Map of countries by population density (See List of countries by population density. ... Terra preta (which means dark soil in Portuguese), refers to expanses of very dark soils found in the Amazon Basin. ...

References

  1. ^ Pyne, Stephen J. (1997) Vestal Fire: An Environmental History, Told through Fire, of Europe and Europe's Encounter with the World. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press. ISBN 0-295-97596-2
  2. ^ Pyne, Stephen J. (1997) Vestal Fire: An Environmental History, Told through Fire, of Europe and Europe's Encounter with the World. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press. ISBN 0-295-97596-2. pg. 34.
  3. ^ Pyne, Stephen J. (1997) Vestal Fire: An Environmental History, Told through Fire, of Europe and Europe's Encounter with the World. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press. ISBN 0-295-97596-2
  4. ^ Jaime Awe, Maya Cities and Sacred Caves, Cubola Books (2006)

  Results from FactBites:
 
Slash and burn - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (951 words)
Slash and burn (a specific practice that may be part of shifting cultivation or swidden-fallow agriculture) is an agricultural procedure widely used in forested areas.
Slash and burn is a specific functional element of certain farming practices, often shifting cultivation systems.
Slash and burn requires a very low human population density to have any chance of success on its own as a single element farming cycle, since the recovery of forests may require many decades or even human generations.
Slash and Burn (630 words)
Slashes map well to filesystems, with a few exceptions, about which newbies occasionally become confused.
A slash is a relatively heavyweight character with directionality.
The slash slants to the right, implying that the roles of the components on either side of the slash are not symmetric - one dominates the other.
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