Information on Forest Science and Technology Number 3 2001

Summaries of papers in the bulletin; for more information contact info@fsiv.org.vn


Survey to evaluate the true nature of slash-and-burn cultivation in provinces of the Central Highlands (1998-1999)

(Do Dinh Sam, Pham Dinh Tam and Nguyen Trong Khoi)

FSIV carried out a survey in 1998-1999 to evaluate the state of slash-and-burn cultivation in the central highland provinces. The four main areas covered were: the real situation with slash-and-burn cultivation, a survey of household economic conditions, a survey to evaluate the forest’s ability to recover after slash-and-burn cultivation and a survey on the implementation of state policies concerning slash-and-burn cultivation and forest protection in central highland provinces. The results obtained are:

· General data have been fully collected about the present conditions of land use and land use structure of agricultural land in four typical provinces and 16 typical communes, data have also been gathered about the slash-and-burn cultivation area over a number of years and at the same time an understanding developed of the special features regarding the slash-and-burn cultivation habits of ethnic minority people in the Central Highlands

· Analysis has been made and conclusions drawn about the characteristics of the income structure, income expenditure and ratio of households suffering from hunger and poverty of the ethnic minority people in the project area

· Data were collected on changes in forest conditions over different periods and analysis was made to show the causes of a reduction in area of natural forest. At the same time a survey was conducted on various types of fallow land to examine the capability of the forest to regenerate after slash-and-burn cultivation

· A specific survey was conducted on the direct effects of important policies such as forest land allocation, fixed cultivation, hunger eradication and poverty alleviation on slash-and-burn cultivation and forest protection

Results of the project constitute a scientific basis for socio-economic development planning strategies to curb slash-and-burn cultivation as a contribution to forest rehabilitation in the Central Highlands.


Slash-and-burn cultivation by some ethnic minorities in the Central Highlands, policies and approaches for rational use of forest land

(Vo Dai Hai, Tran Van Con and Nguyen Xuan Quat)

Slash-and-burn cultivation is still a popular cultivation system used by many ethnic minorities in Vietnam and many other countries in the world. The research described in this paper is aimed at re-evaluation of special features in various slash-and-burn cultivation systems by five ethnic minorities in the Central Highlands: the Ja-rai, Xe-dang, M’nong, Gie trieng and Chu ru. Approaches and policies that contribute to sustainable development in the Central Highlands are recommended. The results show that each ethnic minority group has its own cultivation practices, closely linked to their customs, habits and long-standing cultural traditions. These must be taken into account when intervention is planned.


Slash-and-burn cultivation and participation in natural forest management and protection by the Bahnar ethnic people in K’bang district Gialai province

(Tran Van Con)

Cia Lai is a province in the Central Highlands with a large area of natural forest but a high rate of forest loss in recent years. Forty-eight per cent of the loss in forest area is due to slash-and-burn cultivation. The indigenous people of the area are the Bahnar people who represent up to 44% of the K’bang district population and live mainly on shifting slash-and-burn cultivation. This paper deals with typical features of slash-and-burn cultivation of the Bahnar community, analysis and evaluation of strong and weak points and the interaction between various elements in the system, diagnosis of main restraints and recommendations of potential approaches for intervention to improve the system. The paper also looks at creating stable livelihoods as a motive to strengthen participation of local communities in the studied area in natural forest resources management, protection and sustainable use.


Results of research on establishment of slash-and-burn cultivation models in the direction of sustainable land use in the north west

(Ngo Dinh Que, Dinh Van Quang and Dinh Thanh Giang)

The north west region has the largest land area under slash-and-burn cultivation in Vietnam. Inappropriate cultivation systems over a long period have degraded most of the land under slash-and-burn cultivation, making it gradually unproductive and with low crop productivity.

This paper presents the results of research on suitable cultivation models for slash-and-burn cultivation areas, aimed at raising crop productivity, maintaining the productive capacity of these areas and promoting the rehabilitation of fallow land. The following results were obtained:


  1. traditional slash-and-burn cultivation models by the H’mong in Sonla and Dao in Hoa Binh all have an increased R coefficient due to short fallowing period, soil fertility not yet recovered and insufficient stability of the cultivation system.

  2. Test plantings of legumes, especially Cajanus cajan, Desmodium resonii and Tephrosia candida have confirmed their important role in shifting slash-and-burn cultivation in the north west. After 3 years of dense legume cover, soil fertility has improved markedly with increased humus content, N and microbial activity. Soil erosion is diminished. The fallowing period can be reduced by 2-3 years.

The author recommends an improved rotational cultivation model for the regions practising slash-and-burn cultivation in the north west and gives some suggestions for the application of this model.


Rights to land use for slash-and-burn cultivation by ethnic minority people in mountainous regions

(Vu Long)

The total land area under slash-and-burn cultivation in Vietnam is about 3-4 million hectares. Using sloping land for shifting slash-and-burn cultivation is necessary for the ethnic minority people in mountainous regions to achieve self sufficiency in food production. The practice cannot be done away with in a couple of years. Slash-and-burn cultivation is suitable to conditions of low population density and a less developed workforce but it is a major contributor to forest loss and environmental degradation.

The author recommends allocating land for slash-and-burn cultivation to ethnic minority households to ensure they can produce sufficient food for their needs, gradually creating conditions where they can shift from self sufficiency in food production to commodity production as a step to eliminate slash-and-burn cultivation.

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