Cultivating (in) tropical forests? The evolution and sustainability of systems of management between extracitivism and plantations uri icon


  • Rural households throughout the tropics have developed a wide range of systems for the management of forest resources. An interesting and valuable class of systems is those that are intermediate on the continuum from pure extraction to plantation management. Such â??intermediate systemsâ?� (IS) range from natural forests modified by managers for increased production of selected products through to anthropogenic forests with a high density of valuable species within a relatively diverse and complex structure. IS offer important subsistence and cash incomes, as well as attractive strategies for capital accumulation, risk spreading, and labour reduction. They can also help to secure tenure rights and yield significant biodiversity benefits at both local and global levels. Despite these important contributions of IS to maintaining functioning of both the human and ecological systems in the tropics, IS have been largely overlooked by the development community. This is party because IS fall outside of the dominant agriculture/forestry divide paradigm, but also because of the absence of a recognized conceptual framework. This paper contributes to the development of such a framework by identifying some common features of IS, summarizing their key social, economic and environmental advantages and constraints, and examining the trends and driving forces that lead to their development, persistence and, in some cases, decline. We identify the conditions under which such systems can be important and conclude with a discussion of policy implications

publication date

  • 2000