Slash and Burn

Foresters of the Amazon – Slash And Burn Celebrating three decades of Pulse of the Planet, here’s a program from our archives.Music; Ambience: Rainforest JM: One of the causes of deforestation in the Amazon has been small-scale agriculture, and the finger is often pointed at a method of farming called “slash and burn.” But “slash and burn” has been practiced by tribal people for centuries, and it may be one of the ways of saving the rainforest. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.CP: “In the slash and burn system of agriculture, people will cut down an area of forest, then burn it, and then they’ll plant their crops right into the ashes. The ashes, by the way, act as a fertilizer for those plants.”JM: Christine Padoch is an associate scientist at the Institute of Economic Botany at the New York Botanical Garden.CP: “We often see people cut down a piece of forest and manage it intensively. They’ll plant annual crops, like manioc and plantains. Then, after a few years, they’ll seem to abandon it. But actually, what often looks like abandoned land, isn’t abandoned at all. They’ve just changed the way they manage that land. They’ll manage for tree crops, some of which they plant, like fruit trees, and others which come up spontaneously, like some palm trees. Then they’ll help the economically important species along by removing the plants that threaten them.” JM: Now, to the casual observer, what you end up with may look like a jungle, but actually it’s a carefully managed orchard.CP: “This kind of resource management we call traditional agroforestry. By increasing the value of some of the products from these agroforestry fields, we believe we can find some of the solution to the deforestation problems in the Amazon.”JM: We’ll hear about the down side of slash and burn in our next program. This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. Im Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Slash and Burn

A centuries-old farming method may actually help save portions of the rainforest. This archival program is part of Pulse of the Planet's 30th anniversary celebration.
Air Date:05/30/2018
Scientist:
Transcript:

Foresters of the Amazon - Slash And Burn Celebrating three decades of Pulse of the Planet, here's a program from our archives.Music; Ambience: Rainforest JM: One of the causes of deforestation in the Amazon has been small-scale agriculture, and the finger is often pointed at a method of farming called "slash and burn." But "slash and burn" has been practiced by tribal people for centuries, and it may be one of the ways of saving the rainforest. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.CP: "In the slash and burn system of agriculture, people will cut down an area of forest, then burn it, and then they'll plant their crops right into the ashes. The ashes, by the way, act as a fertilizer for those plants."JM: Christine Padoch is an associate scientist at the Institute of Economic Botany at the New York Botanical Garden.CP: "We often see people cut down a piece of forest and manage it intensively. They'll plant annual crops, like manioc and plantains. Then, after a few years, they'll seem to abandon it. But actually, what often looks like abandoned land, isn't abandoned at all. They've just changed the way they manage that land. They'll manage for tree crops, some of which they plant, like fruit trees, and others which come up spontaneously, like some palm trees. Then they'll help the economically important species along by removing the plants that threaten them." JM: Now, to the casual observer, what you end up with may look like a jungle, but actually it's a carefully managed orchard.CP: "This kind of resource management we call traditional agroforestry. By increasing the value of some of the products from these agroforestry fields, we believe we can find some of the solution to the deforestation problems in the Amazon."JM: We'll hear about the down side of slash and burn in our next program. This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. Im Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.