In many poor countries of the world, hungry families practice ‘slash-and-burn’ farming. They cut down or ‘slash’ a patch of forest land and burn it to clear vegetation. Several times a year they plant crops on the land. The work is all done by hand.
Usually, the first two harvest are good. After three or four years, the soil becomes exhausted of nutrients and the harvest become poor. When this happens, the farmers move on to slash another piece of land, and 15 or 20 years later forest eventually grows back on the cleared area. But the new forest rarely as rich and varied as the original one.
At one time method of farming was quite safe as the forests were extensive. These days, however, because of a shortage of land, people often come back to slashed area within five or six years. This, of course, kills the forest. Slash-and-burn farming and ranching are now damaging Brazil’s rain forest, causing concern all over the world. Slash-and-burn farming certainly damages the environment, but it is not as bad as the damage done by big mining and logging companies.
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