Mimicking the Natural Environment Essay

990 Words 4 Pages
Mimicking the Natural Environment

In Clifford Geertz’s article, Two Types of Ecosystems, he suggests that the uneven distribution of the Indonesian population is in direct correlation with the different methods of agriculture used by those in the densely populated area and those in the less populated area. Geertz explores the distinct characteristics of two methods of cultivation in Indonesia, swidden and sawah agriculture. Swidden agriculture, as described by Geertz, is when the forest is burned and cleared so new crops can be sowed. The nutrients from the burned plants are used as a natural fertilizer to insure growth of its variety of crops. Swidden agriculture works in a cycle, once the nutrients in the soil are depleted, the
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The rainforest supplies the world with the most diverse plant and animal life, however, it is not premium agricultural land. The high canopy allows little light to filter to the earth bellow and the frequent rains rinse away the topsoil, both these characteristics allow for few nutrients to accumulate in the soil. The Guarani people have adopted agroforestry as their form of subsistence. Agroforestry is simple the incorporation of fishing, hunting, gathering and agriculture (Reed: 1997). The use of this form of production, has allowed the Guarani people to live off of the land utilizing its resources.

Like the Indonesians, the Guarani also use swidden agricultural methods to cultivate the surrounding forest. The Guarani pick a potential garden plot and as a communal effort, each family’s garden is cleared of vegetation and then burned to eliminate remaining vegetation. This slash and burn method provides the Guarani people with nutrient rich soil and ample sunlight. The garden plot is then planted with a variety of crops, often four or five different plant species in one square meter. Once the crops have been harvested, the plot is used several more times before it is abandoned. When a plot is abandoned, the surrounding forest takes back the earth, and the plot is incorporated back into the forest. After, a Guarani family abandons its garden plot, they most find another place suitable for cultivation. They are careful as to not choose a plot that was near to
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