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A preliminary assessment of the effect of out-migration on the swidden landscape: A case study in Southern China State

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Abstract of the research this presentation refers to: Swidden agriculture, especially in the Southeast Asian region, is rapidly being transformed and is undergoing a transition into other types of land use. One of the significant factors involved in the demise of swidden agriculture is out-migration. This study was conducted in Southern Chin State, Myanmar, to assess the effects of out-migration on the swidden landscape in terms of household income of swiddeners and the biomass of swidden fallow forests. Within the past decade (2003-2013), the number of swidden-cultivating households has decreased by 50% in the studied village, because 20% of the total population has out-migrated for employment opportunities. Consequently, the area of swidden agriculture has decreased. Biomass accumulation in the fallow forests increased from 4.24 Mgha-1 in 1-year-old fallows to 38.65 Mgha-1 in 9-year-old fallows. As the area of fallow forests got increased, total biomass accumulation increased accordingly. Also, despite there being various income-generating sources in the village, remittances from out-migrated family members contribute large amounts to total household incomes. As a preliminary assessment, the out-migration of swiddeners has resulted in the transformation of the swidden landscape from large contributions of remittances to total household incomes and increases in the biomass of swidden fallow forests. This study will contribute to the formulation of a REDD+ program in swidden areas at the local level.

This presentation was given by Nyein Chan and Takeda Shinya at the IUFRO conference in Beijing, China that was held from October 24-27, 2016.

Published in: Environment
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A preliminary assessment of the effect of out-migration on the swidden landscape: A case study in Southern China State

  1. 1. Swidden A land use system, widely used by ethnic groups in SE Asia, that employs a natural or improved fallow phase, which is longer than the cultivation phase of annual crops, sufficiently long to be dominated by woody vegetation, and cleared by means of fire (Mertz et al. 2009) Schematic diagram of traditional swidden system
  2. 2. Swidden fallow landscape A mosaic of forests of different age, including all complexes of woody vegetation derived from the clearing of closed and open forests by swidden cultivation (Brown & Lugo 1990; Lanly 1982) Schematic diagram of traditional swidden system
  3. 3. Source: DoP, 2015
  4. 4. T village Established in 1957 Location 21°49´N; 93°28´E Population 523 (2013); Zotung Village area (ha) ca. 2657 Livelihood Swidden + Terrace + Others Vegetation Sub-tropical hill evergreen forest Elev: (m amsl) 1337 Environmental factors Rainfall: c. 1,450 mm; Temp: 21 ˚C; Soil: Fluvisol
  5. 5. 0 10 20 30 40 50 0 20 40 60 80 Area(ha) Numberofhouseholds Number of households Area Rat outbreak
  6. 6. 0 10 20 30 40 50 0 20 40 60 80 Area(ha) Numberofhouseholds Number of households Area Rat outbreak Military camping
  7. 7. 413 4 53 16 37 110 In-village India Malaysia USA In-country
  8. 8. 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% Animal husbandary NTFP Vegetable farming Home businessLand rental Hired labor Remittance
  9. 9. 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 1 3 5 7 9 Old forest Drybiomass(Mgha-1) Fallow age (year) Understory Tree
  10. 10. 0 30 60 90 120 150 180 0 50 100 150 200 Drybiomass(Mgha-1) Fallow age (year) Old Forest (OF)

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