Ecoscript 36

36 Baars. Ecology of Hope

In 1987, the World Commission on Environment and Development
in the conclusions and recommendations of its report ('Food
2000 - Global policies for sustainable agriculture') called
for several far reaching future developments in a seven points
action plan. Point 1 of this plan demands the development of
an international code for the sustainable and equitable use of
life-support systems in both developing and developed coun-
tries. The key words are: "principles of economic ecology",
i.e. development strategies that can help to accelerate econo-
mic growth without causing harm to life support systems.

The aim of this manual is to partially answer this call by
demonstrating that traditional deforestation methods, to clear
land for crop production, can be replaced by less destructive
method which may contribute to decelerate the present rate of
deforestation. It is written without the pretension of supply-
ing a definite answer to the problem. Its intention is to
underline, outline and define the viability of its proposals.
This is accomplished exploring a method of conserving the
nutritive potential of the canopy bio-mass by salvaging it
from burning.

The subject is approached from an Ethno-Scientific point of
view i.e. understanding, applying and combining traditional
indigenous agricultural knowledge and basic scientific tech-
nology and systems. This is founded upon a decade of personal
tropical crop production experience, observation of tradition-
al methods and communication with those that applied these

The proposed systems meets the principles of ecological econo-
my. In order to substantiate this claim a case study is inclu-
ded where use has been made of part of the principles outlined
in the manual.


Preface 2
Summary 3
1. Introduction 6
2. Virgin Forest, the Natural Heritage 10
2.1 Nutrient Cycling, Soil Fauna and Micro-Biological
Activity 11
2.2 Traditional Clearing, A Heritage of Fire 16
2.3 Slash and Burn, Forest Nomads 18
3. The Consequences of Burning, Unleashed Furies 20
4. The Shred and mulch System, Ecology of Hope 25
4.1 The Method 26
4.2 The Implementation 26
4.3 Multi Storey Alley Cropping 31
5. Practical Aspects of Shred and Mulch 34
5.1 Weed Control 34
5.2 Crop Protection 34
5.4 Economics 37
5.5 The Benefit of Shredders 39
6. Conclusion 40
7. Discussion 43
Appendix 1: An indigenous equilibrium 44
Appendix 2: Case Study 45
Appendix 3: Leguminous plants, shrubs and trees 47
Appendix 4: Medicinal plants 49
Appendix 5: Insecticidal plants and shrubs 51
Bibliography 54
Acknowledgement 55