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We deliver actionable evidence and solutions to transform how land is used and how food is produced: conserving and restoring ecosystems, responding to the global climate, malnutrition, biodiversity and desertification crises. In short, improving people’s lives.

Alternatives to slash and burn: challenge and approaches of an international consortium

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The world has lost about half of its forests to agriculture and other uses and 78 percent of what remains is heavily altered bearing little resemblance to the original forests (Bryant et al. 1997). About 72 percent of the original 1450 million ha of tropical forests have been converted to other uses (Myers 1991; fao 1997). Deforestation rates for the humid tropics were estimated to be 6.9 million ha/yr at the end of the 1970s (Lanly 1982) and doubled to 14.8 million ha/yr by 1991 (Myers 1993). More recent studies indicate that deforestation rates decreased by about 10 percent in the 1990s (Durst 2000). These values are fraught with methodological problems. Achard et al. (2002) asserted that previous methods overestimated tropical deforestation rates by as much as 25 percent. Brazil the country with the largest area of tropical forests reports that deforestation rates in the Brazilian Amazon increased by as much as 40 percent from 2001 to 2002 ( inpe 2003). Despite these limitations it is obvious that tropical deforestation and subsequent ecosystem degradation continue at alarming rates. They remain a major worldwide concern because of the high levels of plant and animal biodiversity these forests contain the large carbon (C) stocks stored in them and the many other ecosystem services tropical forests provide (Myers 1993; Laurance et al. 1997)

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