Cookies on CABI Bookshop

Like most websites we use cookies. This is to ensure that we give you the best experience possible.


Continuing to use  means you agree to our use of cookies. If you would like to, you can learn more about the cookies we use.

Search this site
Sign up for the CABI e-zine Newsletter
Improving lives by solving problems in agriculture and the environment

Shifting Cultivation Policies

Shifting Cultivation Policies

Balancing Environmental and Social Sustainability

Edited by M Cairns, Independent scholar and researcher, Thailand

November 2017 / Hardback / 1076 Pages / 9781786391797 £39.99 / €55.00 / $65.00
With 10% online discount: £35.99 / €49.50 / $58.50
Add to CartAdd to cart

Main Description

Shifting cultivation supports around 200 million people in the Asia-Pacific region alone. It is often regarded as a primitive and inefficient form of agriculture that destroys forests, causes soil erosion and robs lowland areas of water. These misconceptions and their policy implications need to be challenged. Swidden farming could support carbon sequestration and conservation of land, biodiversity and cultural heritage. This comprehensive analysis of past and present policy highlights successes and failures and emphasizes the importance of getting it right for the future.

This book is enhanced with supplementary resources. The addendum chapters can be found at:


Suitable for policy makers and development specialists with an interest in 'shifting' or swidden agriculture and also academics and researchers working on agricultural and development.

    • Part 1: Introductory section
  • 1: Figments of fire and forest: Shifting cultivation policy in the Philippines and Indonesia
  • 2: Shifting cultivation policies in Southeast Asia: A need to work with, rather than against, smallholder farmers
  • 3: Policies impacting shifting cultivation: Getting them right
  • 4: Trends in shifting cultivation policy: Four decades of efforts to intensify land use in the shifting cultivation tracts of mainland Southeast Asia
  • 5: Tenure and shifting
  • B: Historical overviews from southeast Asia
  • 6: The geopolitics of shifting cultivation in Thailand: A brief history of the ‘hill tribe problem
  • 8: Lao swidden farmers: From self-initiated mobility to permanent settlement trends imposed by policy, 1830 to 2000
  • 9: Romanticizing and villainizing shifting cultivators within national policies: Co-producing ethnic politics and resource-use legitimacy in Thailand’s community forestry debate
  • 10: Conservation and restoration of traditional grasslands in the Mount Asa region of Kyushu, Japan: the role of collaborative management and public policy support
  • D: The Complexities of Implementing ReDD+
  • 11: The viability of swidden agriculture and its uncertain role in REDD+
  • 12: Involving all local stakeholders and holders of land-use rights in REDD+: Indigenous people and/or local communities in Indonesia
    • Part 2: The impact of state policies on shifting cultivation
  • 13: Rethinking swidden cultivation in Myanmar: Policies for sustainable upland livelihoods and food security
  • 14: Swidden agriculture under threat: The case of Ratanakiri, northeast Cambodia: Opportunities and constraints from the national policy environment
  • 15: The growing voice of the state in the fallows of Laos
  • 16: Swidden agriculture and sloping land conversion in China’s Dulong Valley: Impact and adaptation
  • 17: Policies on shifting cultivation in the countries of the eastern Himalayas
  • 18: Reflections on the impacts of state policies on shifting cultivators in northeast India
  • 7: The French colonial administration vs swidden cultivation: From political discourse to coercive policies in French Indochina
  • 19: Vanishing shifting cultivation and loss of tribal culture in Arunachal Pradesh, northeastern India
  • 20: Shifting cultivation on steep slopes of Mizoram, India: Impact of policy reforms
  • 21: State land policies and shifting cultivation in Odisha, India
  • 22: The Dragon and its attempts to put out the fire
  • 23: From farmers to foresters? Response to pine encroachment on former swidden fields in Choekhor Valley, Bumthang district, Bhutan
  • 24: Keeping ecological disturbance on the land: Recreating swidden effects in Bhutan
  • 25: Shifting cultivation in Vietnam: Impacts of various policy reforms
  • 26: Misinterpreting the uplands of Vietnam: How government policies and maps lead to a misunderstanding of swidden and its associated livelihood systems
  • 27: Changing patterns of shifting cultivation in Timor-Leste
  • 28: Evolving swidden farming patterns in the Lao PDR: When policy reverses historically mobile ways of life to impose permanently settled livelihoods
  • 29: ‘Your land is needed’: The fundamental reason behind the sedentarization of shifting cultivators
  • 30: Was Thailand’s highland policy misdirected?
  • 31: Opium and shifting cultivation in Laos: State discourses and policies
  • 32: Eliminating opium from the Lao PDR: Impoverishment and threat of resumption of poppy cultivation following ‘illusory’ eradication
  • 33: Giving up fallows and indigenous swiddens in times of global land grabbing
  • 34: The effects of commercial agriculture and swidden-field privatization in southern Laos
  • 35: From traditional subsistence to commercial agriculture: A downward trend towards food insecurity in rural Lao PDR
  • 36: Policies, migration and coffee cultivation in Vietnam’s Central Highlands: A case study in Dak Lak province
  • 37: The Chayanov life cycle in upland villages of Laos: Socio-economic differentiation driven by state involvement
  • 38: Policy-driven changes in Lisu swiddening: Social organization as adaptation to a new economy
  • 39: From a complex to degraded system: Laws, customs, market forces and legal pluralism in the Cordillera, northern Philippines
  • 40: Vietnam’s ‘renovation’ policies: Impacts on upland communities and sustainable forest management
  • 41: Changes in species distribution and plant resources after the cessation of swidden cultivation in northern Thailand
    • Part 3: Policy lessons that we should be learning
  • 42: Top-down or bottom-up? The role of the government and local institutions in regulating shifting cultivation in the Upper Siang district, eastern Himalaya, India
  • 43: Transitional upland rice cropping systems in northern Thailand: Priorities for research and development, on the basis of on-farm crop diagnosis
  • 44: Lessons learned in northern Thailand: Twenty years of implementation of highland agricultural development and natural resource management projects
  • 45: Putting upland agriculture on the map: The TABI experience in Laos
  • 46: Negotiating for community forestry policy: The recognition of damar agroforests in Indonesia
  • 47: Land law and swidden cultivation: Indonesian adat communities and the struggle for statutory rights
  • 48: Existing village regulations for natural resource management: A key entry point for community participation in sustainable management
  • 49: Policies that transform shifting cultivation practices: Linking multi-stakeholder and participatory processes with knowledge and innovations
    • Part 4: Concluding section
  • 50: Codification of customary communal tenure of upland shifting cultivation communities in Myanmar
  • 51: Shifting cultivation policy decisions that count
  • 52: Lessons learned from the identification and implementation of policies affecting shifting cultivation in the Asia-Pacific region: ‘A summary’

Have you read this book, or used it for one of your courses? We would love to hear your feedback. Email our reviews team to submit a review.