Small-scale agriculture threatens the rainforest
An extensive study led by a researcher at Lund University in Sweden has mapped the effects of small farmers on the rain forests of Southeast Asia for the first time. The findings are discouraging, with regard to environmental impact, biodiversity and the economy, over the long term.
|Small-scale farming in Southeast Asia is threatening surrounding forests reports new study |
[Credit: Y. Clough]
"For the great majority of small farmers, chopping down diverse forests and investing in a single species of tree -- monoculture -- is the simplest and quickest path out of poverty. Productivity increases, the financial risk drops and income rises," says Yann Clough.
|Jungle rubber production is a lucrative business in Southeast Asia |
[Credit: Y. Clough]
The study and its results contradict the traditional view that small scale agriculture is environmentally friendly. Collectively, small farmers cultivate a larger part of Indonesia's forests than that exploited by large landowners. When the small farmers largely embrace monoculture as an agricultural system, they put a great deal of strain on the environment and on biodiversity. Changing the agricultural methods of small farmers requires efforts from various sides and must comprise financial support in order for the farmers to change their way of producing, according to the researchers.
"Since the small farmers earn more with monoculture, sustainability aspects and the effects on nature currently are almost entirely unheeded. Changing the production methods of small farmers requires financial incentives along with political will; otherwise there is a risk that rich and productive agricultural land will have disappeared altogether in 20 years," says Yann Clough.
The study is presented in an article in the online scientific journal Nature Communications.
Source: Lund University [October 14, 2016]