Shifting cultivation is an agricultural system used by 14-34 million people in South East Asia which has been practiced for centuries in Central Kalimantan by smallholder farmers. Intensification of burning by these farmers due to economic and social pressures has undermined the sustainability of this practice and has increased the risk of unintentional fires in degraded peatland ecosystems, which have produced regional haze and globally significant greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to essential peatland rewetting and rehabilitation measures, a concurrent focus on alternative livelihoods is required to sustain communities. Slash and char (the process of pyrolysis of biomass as opposed to burning biomass) has been proposed as an alternative to slash and burn as a land clearing method. Pyrolysis results in a carbon rich and chemically recalcitrant residue that may be applied to soils as biochar for improved crop yield  or may be used or sold as charcoal. The project intends to consider the drivers and causes of burning as a component of shifting cultivation at the village level u sing a systems thinking / system dynamics approach, then contrast this with a slash and char system as an alternative. 

Funding: Research Training Program (RTP)
Advisors: A/Prof Paul Dargusch, Dr Ammar Abdul AzizDr. Carl Smith , Professor Stephen Joseph (external)

Project members

Samuel ROBB

PhD candidate