Farming with Fire and Water

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18. Farming with Fire and Water:
The Human Ecology of a Composite Swiddening Community in Vietnam’s Northern Mountains.

Tran Duc Vien, A.Terry Rambo and Nguyen Thanh Lam, eds. August, 2009.


This volume offers the first detailed description of composite swiddening, a traditional Southeast Asian upland agricultural system that combines shifting cultivation fields on the hillsides with irrigated paddy fields in the valleys. The product of research over a 15-year period by natural and social scientists in Tat hamlet, a Da Bac Tay ethnic minority community, it challenges the conventional belief that shifting cultivation inevitably causes deforestation. Its 19 chapters describe this complex agroecosystem in terms of its multiple individual components, its structure, functioning, and sustainability; its social and economic dimensions; its adaptation to on-going demographic, economic, environmental and policy changes; and its wider use elsewhere in Vietnam’s northern mountains. It should be of interest to Southeast Asian area studies specialists, agricultural ecologist, ethnologists, and upland development policymakers.