The agroforest alternative to Imperata grasslands: when smallholder agriculture and forestry reach sustainability

Michon, G.; de Foresta, H.
October 1996
Agroforestry Systems;Oct-Dec1996, Vol. 36 Issue 1-3, p105
Academic Journal
Basic prerequisites for sustainable reforestation of Imperata grasslands in Southeast Asia are presented. A theoretical forest is designed according to these prerequisites. Composed of basic units managed by local smallholders, the forest is composed of two sets of commercial tree species suited to local conditions, one set providing regular cash income and the other providing seasonal or irregular cash income. Such composition ensures economic and ecological viability of the forest in the long run, provided that clear tenurial rights on the basic units are recognized. Guidelines for a transition from Imperata grasslands to forest are presented, underlining the importance of relying on natural succession processes. The theoretical forest is identified as an agroforest, a diverse forest rebuilt and managed by farmers, providing forest and agricultural products for both cash income andhousehold consumption. Agroforests have been developed for decades by indigenous farmers in some regions of Southeast Asia. Examples fromIndonesia are presented to support the theoretical analysis. They show that the agroforest alternative is a valuable unifying concept forreforestation of Imperata grasslands, for a sustainable upland agriculture, and more generally for an equitable environmentally and economically sound development of rural areas in the humid tropics.


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