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close this bookIndigenous Agroforestry in Latin America: a Blueprint for Sustainable Agriculture? (NRI, 1994, 24 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentForeword
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentGlossary
View the documentSummary
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentForest destruction and environmental degradation
Open this folder and view contentsSwidden agriculture
View the documentBenefits of swidden agriculture
View the documentRecent agroforestry research
View the documentBlueprint for colonist agriculture?
View the documentConclusions
View the documentReferences
View the documentFurther reading


Improving the sustainability of the use of natural resources and the maintenance of biodiversity in Latin America is an urgent priority in order to reduce tropical rain forest destruction. Although traditional Amerindian agroforestry has been documented, there have been few attempts to assess its potential as a model or blueprint for sustainable production systems.

The objectives of this literature review are to assess:

(a) the value of traditional systems in terms of their sustainability, biodiversity, and livelihood; and

(b) the socio-economic conditions which will enable their adoption by immigrant or new colonist farmers. Given that replicating these systems intact may well be impossible, a third aim is to:

(c) identify the characteristics of indigenous practices that could form the basis of future agroforestry research and development.

The study should therefore assist in the definition of a research agenda to improve the sustainability of natural resources management in tropical forest areas. It should also help efforts to maintain existing sustainable systems that are in danger of breaking down under economic and demographic pressures, and help speed up efforts to develop new systems for migrant settlers.