Monday, July 09, 2007

Guest Post: Alternatives to slash and burn.

By Jessica Schessler

Obviously, rainforest destruction is a heated topic of discussion. Many popular websites claim to plant trees in exchange for donations, and even Dell has hopped on the bandwagon. When you buy a new computer you can select “plant a tree for me” as you checkout and help offset your carbon footprint. Planting trees can be a good thing, but are we really making progress if we do nothing about the source of the problem? Sustainable Harvest International is heading straight for one source. This small non-profit organization
“has worked with nearly 1,000 families and 900 students in Honduras, Panama, Belize and Nicaragua implementing alternatives to slash-and-burn farming, the leading cause of rainforest destruction in the region.”

Malnutrition is a huge problem in this area of the world, and many vegetables are considered a luxury item. SHI teaches new farming techniques to the local families, such as alley cropping, organic vegetable gardening, and seed saving and storage.

Since 1997, SHI has successfully:
  • Planted more than 2,000,000 trees.
  • Converted 6,000 acres to sustainable uses, thereby saving 30,000 acres from slash-and-burn destruction.
  • Improved nutrition through the establishment of more than 200 organic vegetable gardens.
  • Increased farm income up to 800%.
  • Built 165 wood-conserving stoves (saving 1,650 trees per year)

“…slash-and-burn practice is very shortsighted and damaging to forests… Removal of the vegetation not only destroys the habitat for numerous species of plants and animals, but it also can lead to soil erosion, watershed degradation, and climate change in the area. Once the vegetation is removed the rapid processes of plant growth, death, and decay that created the fertile environment are severely limited or entirely destroyed.” (1)

This farmer living near the Panama Canal has learned that growing rice in paddies instead of using slash and burn improves his yield by 400%-800%, without the need to cut down any forests.

What better way to stop slash and burn than with education in alternative farming techniques? SHI’s programs not only help out the farmers and their families, but the environment as well.

Check out to find out more about SHI!


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At 3:09 PM, Blogger eredux said...

Check this US Carbon Footprint Map out, has United States Interactive Carbon Footprint Map, illustrating Greenest States. This site has all sorts of stats on individual State energy consumptions, demographics and State energy offices.


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