Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 84, Issue 2, pp 141–155 | Cite as

Causes and consequences of shifting cultivation and its alternative in the hill tracts of eastern Bangladesh

  • Syed Ajijur RahmanEmail author
  • Md. Faizar Rahman
  • Terry Sunderland


Shifting cultivation, which is still prevalent in the uplands of eastern Bangladesh, contributes significantly to forest loss and is the main cause of land degradation. This paper presents the causes and consequences of shifting cultivation and its potential land use alternatives. The analysis presented is primarily qualitative with a supplementary quantitative analysis of the causes of forest loss by logistic regression. The results of the study show that traditional land practices, exacerbated by poverty and associated with a lack of technical knowledge is the main cause for the continuation of unsustainable shifting cultivation. Population pressure, inadequate land for cultivation, low education levels, policy planning and implementation without local participation are all factors that influence farmers’ decision to continue shifting cultivation. Intensive land management through agroforestry is a promising alternative that can sustainably manage the remaining forest resources. If adopted, such systems potentially provide good economic returns, and may significantly reduce rural poverty.


Ethnic minorities Shifting cultivation Deforestation Poverty Agroforestry 



This research is a part of the global project of CIFOR, the Poverty and Environment Network (PEN). The authors would like to thanks Arild Angelsen, Bruce Campbell, Ramadhani Achdiawan and Ronnie Babigumira for their support and guidance. The authors are also thankful to the Department of Sociology, University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh who supported this research. Many thanks are also extended to the farmers at the study site where field survey was undertaken, who share their precious time, thought and concerns.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Syed Ajijur Rahman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Md. Faizar Rahman
    • 2
  • Terry Sunderland
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)Bogor BaratIndonesia
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of RajshahiRajshahiBangladesh

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