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Early research on shifting cultivation provided intricate analyses of how these systems function whereas recent research increasingly focuses on how rapid land use transitions in current and former shifting cultivation areas affect people and environment. While being a farming practice that is in decline or in a functional transition in some areas, it persists or increases elsewhere. Its impact (and especially the impacts of transitions to other land use types) on ecosystem services such as carbon storage, biodiversity, nutrient cycling and hydrology are increasingly debated in the literature and of concern to international environmental agreements such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. Simultaneously development actors are concerned with linkages between shifting cultivation and human well-being. In most countries, where shifting cultivation is common, governmental systems remain convinced that shifting cultivation has negative social-ecological impacts and work determinedly on eradicating the system. However, the scientific literature provides evidence of complex and location specific social-ecological outcomes of shifting cultivation systems and transitions away from these.
The purpose of this working group is to bring together researchers and practitioners from all disciplines working with shifting cultivation and the land use systems that replace it. Specifically, the purpose is to 1) create a forum for synthesizing contextual insights and knowledge across the diversity of shifting cultivation systems in transition; 2) facilitate development of joint activities for improving the understanding of shifting cultivation systems, including the drivers and outcomes of transitions to other land use types; and 3) develop policy outreach activities and engage in a science-policy dialogue.
As a GLP Working Group has the aim to engage a wide array of actors into the GLP, the membership application will be open. All members are encouraged to participate in working group events although participation in some topical workshops may be by invitation only due to limited funds and having a manageable group size for discussions.