Major Land Use Issues in the Tropics, and the History of Agroforestry

  • Alain Atangana
  • Damase Khasa
  • Scott Chang
  • Ann Degrande


Deforestation is the main land use issue facing tropical regions. Forest cover in Central Africa has been reduced from 248 538 000 ha in 1990 to 236 070 000 ha in 2005, and in West Africa, from 8 865 000 in 1990 to 7 437 200 ha in 2005. About 83 % of forest losses in Africa occurred from 1990 to 2000, mostly due to slash-and-burn practices that were employed to clear the land for agricultural uses. Similarly, 65 % of forest loss in Asia from 1990 to 2005 resulted from land use changes to agriculture. Twenty-three percent of this loss could be directly attributed to intensification of slash-and-burn agriculture, while 13 % was attributable to direct land use changes on small-size farms. In Latin America and the Caribbean, forest areas have been reduced from 923 807 000 ha in 1990 to 859 925 000 ha in 2005. The majority (47 %) of this loss was due to forestland conversion into large farms. In Brazil, the conversion of forest area to pastureland significantly reduced forest cover. Slash-and-burn agriculture, chemical inputs and extensive grazing are harmful to forest soils and biodiversity. The introduction of trees and/or livestock in agricultural plots was advocated to overcome the unsustainable use of natural resources and reduce poverty in the tropics. The World Agroforestry Centre (known as the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry, ICRAF, before 2002) was created to develop and promote agroforestry practices in the tropics and worldwide.


Agroforestry System Forest Loss Agroforestry Practice Hydraulic Lift Congo Basin 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alain Atangana
    • 1
    • 2
  • Damase Khasa
    • 3
  • Scott Chang
    • 1
  • Ann Degrande
    • 4
  1. 1.Renewable ResourcesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Institute of Integrative and Systems BiologyUniversité LavalQuebecCanada
  3. 3.Forest and Wood SciencesUniversité LavalQuebecCanada
  4. 4.West and Central Africa Regional ProgramWorld Agroforestry CentreYaoundeCameroon

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