Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins
Alternatives to Slash and Burn Program
The Consultative Group for International Research in Agriculture (CGIAR) has hosted the
Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn (ASB), a global consortium of research institutes, non-governmental organizations, universities, community organizations, farmers' groups, and other local, national, and international partners.
ASB works at the margins of the world's remaining tropical rainforests, in landscape mosaics comprising both forests and farms. These rainforests are an invaluable natural heritage. They also are home to over one billion rural people, the vast majority of whom are poor and depend directly on forest resources and agriculture for their livelihoods.
Tropical rainforests are falling fast. Causes of deforestation are complex, including agricultural expansion, road building, and market forces. Deforestation often is blamed on the slash-and-burn practices of poor migrant smallholders, millions of whom do clear and cultivate small areas of forest by this method. However, other groups often clear much larger areas, leading to conflict with smallholders. These include plantation owners, ranchers, loggers, and state-run enterprises and settlement projects.
For the poor people making a living in the tropical forest margins, conservation does not (yet) pay. Attempts to impose conservation by regulation either fail altogether or benefit the powerful at the expense of the poor. Moreover, global markets do not value the environmental benefits of tropical forests. Until we address the tradeoffs between conservation and local livelihoods, tropical rainforests will continue to disappear. No single group or organization has the means or expertise to tackle these complex, interlinked problems by itself.