Agroforestry: Harmonic Swiddens

  • Harold Olofson
Reference work entry

Forest swiddens are clearings made in a forest by shifting cultivators, to be planted to crops. They are generally of two types, depending on the cultural traditions of the cultivators: harmonic and disharmonic.

Harmonic swiddens are found among many indigenous cultivators, and are essentially a form of agroforestry. In fact, when they are designed and managed in such a way as to enable rapid recovery of the forest after a brief period of use during which their soil fertility is depleted, they are good models for modern agroforestry. As integral agroforestry paralleling Conklin's (Conklin 1961) famous classification of types of shifting cultivation, they are embedded in cultures into which members of a society are born, as part of their plan for survival. Making harmonic swiddens is learned as part of growing up in indigenous societies where they are integral to the tradition of cultivation. One of the effects of harmonic swiddens which is often “in the awareness” of their...
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York 2008

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  • Harold Olofson

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