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Estimating the consequences of fire exclusion for food crop production, soil rertility, and fallow recovery in shifting cultivation landscapes in the humid tropics

Norgrove, Lindsey and Hauser, Stefan. (2015) Estimating the consequences of fire exclusion for food crop production, soil rertility, and fallow recovery in shifting cultivation landscapes in the humid tropics. Environmental management, Vol. 55, No. 3. pp. 536-549.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A6357809

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Abstract

In the Congo Basin, smallholder farmers practice slash-and-burn shifting cultivation. Yet, deliberate burning might no longer be sustainable under reduced fallow scenarios. We synthesized data from the Forest Margins Benchmark Area (FMBA), comprising 1.54 million hectares (ha), in southern Cameroon and assessed the impact of fire exclusion on yield, labor inputs, soil fertility, ecosystem carbon stocks, and fallow recovery indicators in two common field types (plantain and maize) under both current and reduced fallow scenarios. While we could not distinguish between impacts of standard farmer burning practice and fire exclusion treatments for the current fallow scenario, we concluded that fire exclusion would lead to higher yields, higher ecosystem carbon stocks as well as potentially faster fallow recovery under the reduced fallow scenario. While its implementation would increase labor requirements, we estimated increased revenues of 421 and 388 US$ ha−1 for plantain and maize, respectively. Applied to the FMBA, and assuming a 6-year reduced fallow scenario, fire exclusion in plantain fields would potentially retain 240,464 Mg more ecosystem carbon, comprising topsoil carbon plus tree biomass carbon, than standard farmer practice. Results demonstrate a potential “win–win scenario” where yield benefits, albeit modest, and conservation benefits can be obtained simultaneously. This could be considered as a transitional phase towards higher input use and thus higher yielding systems.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Ehemalige Einheiten Umweltwissenschaften > Biogeographie (Nagel)
UniBasel Contributors:Norgrove, Lindsey
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Bibsysno:Link to catalogue
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1432-1009
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Language:English
Identification Number:
Last Modified:31 Dec 2015 10:57
Deposited On:10 Apr 2015 09:13

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