About half of tropical deforestation is commonly explained by the expansion of traditional agriculture (shifting cultivation). This article first questions the share of responsibility assigned to traditional agriculture it may well be overestimated because of unclear definitions, uncertain estimates, and potential political biases. Second, a simple framework based on a theory of land rent capture is developed to explain agricultural expansion. The framework is applied in the study of recent changes in shifting cultivators’ adaptations in a lowland rainforest area in Sumatra, Indonesia. Increased rubber planting and expansion into primary forest are seen as a response to increased rubber profitability and (expected) land scarcity, and as a race for property rights. Government land claims have had significant multiplier effects on forest clearing through changes in farmers’ expectations and in initiating a self-reinforcing land race.
Topic: deforestation,shifting cultivation,Indonesia,traditional farming,agriculture
Publisher: Elsevier Science Publishers, Great Britain
Publication Year: 1995
Source: World Development 23(10)