Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn
Forest and Agroecosystem Tradeoffs in the Humid Tropics (Tropical Forest
Margins) Crosscutting Sub-Global Assessment
The Tropical Forest Margins sub-global assessment (SGA) was the first
crosscutting SGA in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA). It draws on
ten years of research from the benchmark sites of the
Tropical Forest Margins. The sites are located in ecoregions in the
Peruvian Amazon, the western Amazon of Brazil, an associated site in the
eastern Amazon of Brazil, the Congo Basin of Cameroon, northern Thailand,
and the islands of Sumatra in Indonesia and Mindanao in the Philippines.
The assessment focuses on the landscape mosaics (comprising both forests
and agriculture) where global environmental problems and poverty coincide
at the margins of the remaining humid tropical forests.
This assessment considers the impact of all drivers of deforestation
and environmental degradation in the forest margins. Drivers of deforestation
include not only migrant smallholders, who practice slash- and-burn agriculture,
but also plantation owners, other medium- and large-scale farmers, ranchers,
loggers and state-run enterprises and projects.
All of the benchmark sites of the ASB-Partnership for Tropical Forest
Margins are located in the humid tropical broadleaf forest biome (Figure
1). These sites are critical biodiversity and poverty hotspots and all are
listed as WWF priority ecoregions for the tropics. The ecoregions where
these sites are located have the richest terrestrial vegetation in the world,
and conversion of these forest areas leads to greater species loss per unit
area than any other type of land cover change. Studies indicate that 1.8
billion people, most directly dependent upon forest resources and agriculture
for their livelihoods, live within the humid tropical forest biome.
The ASB Partnership has been researching tropical forest margins since
1994. Upon joining the MA, the ASB Partnership adopted MA scenarios and
a greater participatory component into its programme. The ASB Partnership
will continue to build on the results it attained both during and prior
to the MA assessment. The Tropical Forest Margins MA results will be used
to help identify research priorities, policy options, and land-use strategies
to improve natural resource management both locally and globally. Results
are aimed at policy-makers and decision-makers dealing with land use in
The ASB benchmark sites are areas (roughly ranging from one hundred to
one thousand square kilometers) of long-term study and engagement by ASB
partners with households, communities, and policy-makers at various levels.
Community-level assessments were a key part of the Tropical Forest Margins
assessment process. Production of guidelines and most of the field work
and interviews were conducted within several communities in each benchmark
- Pilot assessment: 2003
- Main assessment: 2004
- Review and outreach, project completion: 2008
ASB-Partnership for Tropical Forest Margins is a system-wide programme
of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
The six national and six international institutions involved are: Agency
for Agricultural Research and Development (AARD), Indonesia; Empresa Brasileira
de Pesquisa Agropecuária (Embrapa), Brazil; Institut de Recherche Agricole
pour le Dévéloppement (IRAD), Cameroon; Instituto Nacional de Investigación
Agraria (INIA), Peru; Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural
Resources Research and Development (PCARRD), Philippines; and Royal Forest
Department (RFD), Thailand; Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR),
Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), the Tropical Soil Biology
and Fertility Institute (TSBF), International Food Policy Research Institute
(IFPRI), International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and The
World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). The World Agroforestry Centre is ASB-Partnership’s
convening centre and hosts the global coordination office in Nairobi, Kenya.
- ASB Global Coordinator
PO Box 30677
Nairobi 00100 Kenya
Tel: +254 20 7224000
via USA +1 650 833 6645
Fax: +254 20 7224001
via USA +1 650 833 6646
Funding for this work was provided by grants from the Millennium Ecosystem
Assessment, the World Bank-Netherlands Partnership Programme and the government
of the Netherlands. Core support was provided by CGIAR, the World Agroforestry
Centre and the Earth Institute of Columbia University. ASB partners funded
the project with in-kind contributions.
Ecosystem Services Assessed
- Provisioning services: food, fodder, fiber, water, timber, non-wood
forest products, etc.
- Regulating services: carbon sequestration, atmospheric regulation,
air quality, water supply, nutrient supply, regulation of crop pests
- Resource base and supporting services: soils, biological diversity,
- Related topics: ecosystem resilience, human well-being, tradeoffs
between ecosystem services and human well-being, driving forces of land
Project Outputs and Results
Figure 1. Tropical Forest Margins benchmark sites and
their forest biomes. All of the mapped ecoregions, except Tocantis-Araguaia-Maranhao
moist forests, are classified by WWF as Global 200 Ecoregions.
Figure 2. Tropical Forest Margins sites in forest/agriculture
mosaic areas and the forest biome. Red spots indicate benchmark sites.
Results of the ASB-Partnership for Tropical Forest Margins assessment
indicate that it is extremely difficult to strike an equitable balance between
the legitimate interests of development and equally legitimate global concerns
over the environmental consequences of tropical deforestation. ASB- Partnership
will continue to review the results of its work and engage in dialogue and
consultation with stakeholders to identify user needs and prepare ASB-Partnership
for Tropical Forest Margins policy briefs on policy-relevant questions.
These policy briefs will then be collated into a comprehensive assessment
The majority of the substantive material used in this assessment was
drawn from ASB-Partnership research and publications, which now number more
than 800. This assessment has synthesized that vast body of information,
placing the ASB-Partnership results within a broader scientific context
and making them more accessible to relevant parties, especially decision-makers.
The MA facilitated increased participatory research and brought to the
ASB-Partnership a new tool: scenarios. Commitment to developing and using
scenarios is high within the ASB-Partnership.
Few of the partners in the ASB-Partnership had prior experience with
scenarios before the Tropical Forest Margins assessment. A global training
and participatory scenario exercises programme was developed as part of
the Tropical Forest Margins assessment, but further training is necessary
for capacity building in using scenarios. The following scenarios were developed
in association with the assessment.
In Northern Peru, two scenario exercises were developed with students
of secondary schools, higher education technical students, and technicians
from the Sustainable Development Mountain Ecosystem Programme to develop
and build awareness on how the ecosystem can be preserved in the watershed.
In the Madre de Dios and Ucayali, in the Peruvian Amazon, scenarios were
used to explore and raise awareness on the environmental, social and economic
implications of the new transoceanic road that connects the Amazon of Brazil
and Peru crossing biodiversity hotspot areas.
Cameroon landscape scenarios were developed with community members at
the village level. The scenarios were based on the time scale: 1970, 2000
and 2030. In this particular case, results of the scenarios were inconsistent
with scientific findings.
Brazil regional and local scale scenarios used an economic model to test
the effects of devaluation on a landscape/forest area in Brazil. Results
were used for informing policy-making in the Brazilian Enterprise for Agriculture
and Livestock Research (Embrapa). Results are available in IFPRI report
130. In addition, local scenarios were developed with Nilson Campos settlement
in the state of Rondonia. They helped settlers to think about the implications
of adopting community forest management.
The Montane Southeast Asia landscape scenarios used four contrasting
socio-economic development models projected in 10 year intervals from 2000
to 2050. Results will be used in regional and national strategy. In Thailand,
participatory scenarios in the Mae Kong Kha sub-watershed of Mae Chaem watershed
helped ease tensions between water users (upstream and downstream), and
local communities and administrators joined forces to plan for sustainable
natural resource management.
Pantropic land-cover change scenarios were developed to project change
through 2025 in the humid tropical forests.
Results of the scenarios will be published on the ASB-Partnership for
Tropical Forest Margins web page as they become available:
Reports, Links & Publications
- Bentes-Gama M., Oliveira V.B., Vieira A.H., Locatelli M., Rodrigues
V.G.S., Medeiros I. de M., Martins E.P. 2006. Fortalecimiento fo Manejo
Florestal Comunitário en assentamento rural Amazônia Ocidental, Rondônia,
Brasil. In: Congresso Latino Americano da IUFRO, 2. La Serena, Anais.
La Serena: Instituto Florestal de Chile.
- Evans K., Velarde S.J., Prieto R., Rao S.N., Sertzen S., Dávila
K., Cronkleton P. and de Jong W. 2006. Field guide to the Future: Four
Ways for Communities to Think Ahead. Bennett E. and Zurek M. (eds.).
Nairobi: Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), ASB, World
Agroforestry Centre. p.87.
- López M., Prieto R., Velarde S.J. 2006. Construyendo el Futuro de
Chalaco, Reporte del Taller de Escenarios, 20 y 21 de Mayo de 2005.
Municipalidad Distrital de Chalaco, Colegio Secundario "San Fernando",
Chalaco. ASB, Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina (UNALM), World
Agroforestry Centre y Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Piura, Perú
- Rao S.N., Velarde S.J. 2005. Training Course Report: ASB Global
Scenarios Training Course.
- ASB MA Training for Scenarios Facilitators Workshop, 17-23 November,
Chiang Mai, Thailand. Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn Programme, Nairobi,
- Palm C. A., Vosti S.A., Sanchez P.A, and Ericksen P.J., eds. 2005.
Slash-and-Burn Agriculture: The Search for Alternatives. Colombia University
Press, New York, NY U.S.A.463pp.
- Prieto R.P., Patiño F, Ugarte J., Velarde S.J., Rivadeneyra C. 2006.
Exploring the Future: Madre de Dios. Scenarios Workshop report, May
28-29, 2005. Universidad Nacional de Madre de Dios.
- Puerto Maldonado, Peru. ASB, World Agroforestry Centre and Millennium
Ecosystem Assessment. 44p.
- Thongbai P., Pipattawattanakul P., Preechapanya P., Manassrisuksi,
K. 2006. Participatory scenarios for sustainable management of an ASB
benchmark site in Thailand: The case of Mae Kong Kha sub-watershed of
Mae Chaem watershed. Paper presented at International Symposium ‘Towards
Sustainable Livelihoods and Ecosystems in Mountainous Regions’, 7 -
9 March 2006, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
- Tomich T.P., Palm C.A., Velarde S.J., Geist H., Gillison A.N., Lebel
L., Locatelli M., Mala W., van Noordwijk M., Sebastian K., Timmer D.,
White D. 2005. Forest and Agroecosystem Tradeoffs in the Humid Tropics.
A Crosscutting Assessment by the Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn Consortium
conducted as a sub-global component of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.
ASB Programme, Nairobi, Kenya.
- Tomich T., Alegre J., Areskoug V., Cattaneo A., Cornelius J., Ericksen
P., Joshi L., Kasyoki J., Legg C., Locatelli M., Murdiyarso D., Palm
C., Porro P., Rescia Perazzo A., Salazar-Vega A., Timmer D., van Noordwijk
M., Velarde S.J., Weise S., White D. 2004. The Challenges of Integration.
Report of an on-line consultation among researchers of the Alternatives
to Slash-and-Burn (ASB) Programme. Presented at Conference Bridging
Scales and Epistemologies: Linking Local Knowledge and Global Science
in Multi-Scale Assessments. Alexandria, Egypt. March 17-20.
- Tomich T., Timmer D.W., Velarde S.J., Alegre J., Areskoug V., Cash
D.W., Cattaneo A., Ericksen P., Joshi L., Kasyoki J., Legg C., Locatelli
M., Murdiyarso D., Palm C., Porro P., Rescia Perazzo A., Salazar-Vega
A., van Noordwijk M., Weise S., White D. 2007. Integrative science in
practice: process perspectives from the ASB, Partnership for the Tropical
Forest Margins. (Manuscript accepted Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment
- Ugarte J., Prieto R.P., Lopez M., Velarde S.J., Rivadeneyra C. 2006.
Exploring the Future: Ucayali. Scenarios Workshop Report, 10 June del
2005. Conference Room at the Hotel Sol del Oriente-Pucallpa, Ucayali
. ASB, World Agroforestry Centre and Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.
- Ugarte J., Prieto R.P., Lopez M., Velarde S.J., Rivadeneyra C. 2005.
Explorando el Futuro: Ucayali. Reporte del taller Escenarios, 10 de
Junio del 2005. Sala de Conferencias del Hotel Sol del Oriente, Pucallpa.
ASB, Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina (UNALM), World Agroforestry
Centre y Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, Ucayali, Peru. 29p.