How Did Shifting Cultivation Impact Social, Environmental, and Economical Aspects of Southeast Asia?

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Shifting cultivation is defined as “a productive system of agriculture in which small plots are cleared in forestlands, the dried brush is burned to release nutrients, and the clearings are planted with multiple species; each plot is used for only 2 or 3 years and then abandoned for many years of regrowth” (Pulsipher 2000 “Glossary”) Indigenous settlers in forested uplands, river floodplains/deltas, coastlines, and mountainous mainland which make up 60% of the population in SE Asia, have thrived using shifting cultivation as well as hunting/gathering and other agricultural techniques for the past 1000 years. (Pulsipher 2000 “Southeast Asia”) Shifting cultivation has impacted Southeast Asia in two ways; by providing sustaining crops and profit for indigenous rural peoples, government action in eliminating shifting cultivation mainly in terms of opium poppy crops. One way shifting cultivation impacts SE Asia is that it provides traditional and the “bare-minimum” of subsistence crops and profit for the 176 indigenously ethic groups making up 14.7% of the population in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and Yunnan. Of all the total forest area, the rural locals use only 5% of it for shifting cultivation. This low percentage is partly caused by a priority in the mountainous mainland of Southeast Asia, or MMSEA. The priority is the national as well as global protection of the watershed system and the biophysical environment. Therefore, the rurals rely on the

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