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A spatiotemporal model of shifting cultivation and forest cover dynamics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 October 2008

Senior Sector Specialist, Environment and Natural Resource Management, World Vision Canada, 1 World Drive, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, L5T 2Y4. Tel: 905-565-6200 x 2158. Fax: 905-696-2164. Email:


Sustainable use of humid forest resources as a source of fertile land for cultivation requires long periods of fallow and the ability to move the zone of active cultivation from one location to another over time. At the individual field level, shifting cultivation is essentially a resource extraction problem akin to a pulse fishery – a short period of intensive use of the stock of soil fertility followed by a long idle period permitting regeneration. This paper describes a spatiotemporal model of resource extraction adapted to the use of forest resources by shifting cultivators. Theoretically grounded in the spatial and household modelling literature, it is a structural simulation model of household decision-making, and includes a demonstration of the concept with a limited data set from southern Cameroon. Use of a stated preference approach to modelling decision-making identifies individual preferences and spatial path-dependency as important sources of shortened fallows and resource degradation.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2008

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