tropical plant

Amazon Interactive
Making a Living

Forest panorama

Slash and burn is an ecologically harmonious method of cultivation only when the population density--the number of people living in an area--is low. Slash and burn requires a lot of land, since farmers must move their crops to new fields every few years.

When too many people try to farm the land, they cannot maintain that system of crop rotation. They are forced to clear more and more forest for their crops. In many parts of the Amazon, the population of an area has grown so much that slash and burn--also known as milpa, swidden, and shifting cultivation--is very destructive to the rain forest.

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