Farmers in the tropical rain forest of Africa are mainly involved in shifting cultivation activities that are criticized as a principal cause of deforestation. However, such criticisms are narrated on the basis of forest protection, rather than understanding the ecological role of what they are actually doing. This study aims to clarify the shifting cultivation system of the Bangandou farmers who live in the tropical rain forest of southeastern Cameroon with special reference to their plantain cultivation.
The Bangandou grow several crops for subsistence and cacao as a cash crop. They also depend on foraging, hunting and fishing to get animal protein and to enrich their diet. Their agricultural land use is characterized by three kinds of fields: fields of starch crops, including plantain, cassava, maize and cocoyam, opened in secondary forest near villages; cacao fields in virgin forest close to rivers; and groundnut-maize fields on sandy riverside land.
The main staple food of the Bangandou is plantain, which they are able to harvest throughout the year by staggering the time of planting and using several varieties with different growth periods. This plantain-based system is maintained by the periodical use of the secondary forest dominated by the quick-growing Musanga cecropioides R. Br., in which weeding is practiced for about one year after clearing and then abandoned thereafter. Plantain keeps growing and fruiting even in such bush-like “fallow fields,” and people can therefore continue harvesting plantains from several fields opened in different years.
The Bangandou have thus managed to achieve the stable production of plantain and the sustainable use of the secondary forest in such a way that the fallow starts during the harvest period of plantain, which assists the quick regeneration of the forest.
While “Pygmy” hunter-gatherers were generally assumed to be the original inhabitants of the central African rain forest, recent studies have proposed the hypothesis that it is impossible to subsist by hunting and gathering alone in the tropical rain forests without some degree of dependence on agricultural products. This hypothesis has been debated among researchers of hunter-gatherer societies in different parts of the world. There have been, however, few studies on this issue that were based on sound data on the actual hunting and gathering life of the forest peoples.
This paper examines the possibility of hunting and gathering life in the tropical rain forest, based on the data obtained from participant observation on molongo, a long-term hunting and gathering expedition, among the Baka in southeastern Cameroon. During the two and a half months of the expedition, the Baka subsisted solely on wild food resources, wild yams in particular, although it was during the dry season when food resources are generally thought to be scarce. The sustainability of such a forest life is examined in relation to the abundance and distribution patterns of wild food resources, hunting and gathering technologies, residential patterns and nomadic life style.
Until the 1980’s, the Royal Government of Bhutan developed natural and human resources for the purposes of economic development, while attempting to make a
national culture by emphasizing cultural differences from other countries, in language, dress etc. However, in the late 1980’s, the government tried to control the speed of development and proclaimed environmental conservation as the main national objective of Bhutan. It has considered that the thinking of Mahayana Buddhism, the national religion, enconpassed environmental ethics of global environmentalism. This means that Royal Government of Bhutan adopted global value, environmental conservation, as a strength of national identity or national culture. Then their “Traditional Buddhist Culture” changed from what represented Bhutanese uniqueness and cultural differences to what it had similarity with “Global Culture.”
In this paper, I will focus on the historical change of government policy concerning forest management and conservation in Bhutan and clarify the turning point in the change from forest development to environmental conservation. Forest development policy emphasizes forestry development and plantation projects. On the other hand, environmental conservation appreciates intrinsic value of the forest and nature itself and tries to conserve it. I consider that the commitment made to environmental conservation since the 1990’s by the Royal Government of Bhutan means that they changed the principle on which national culture was to be built as well as forest policy itself. My interest in this paper is to show the moment and process of these changes in modern Bhutan.
Arsenic contamination of groundwater in Bangladesh is a new environmental problem. Arsenic has recently been detected in high concentration in many delta regions in Southeast Asia. In Bangladesh the first patient suffering from arsenic poisoning was discovered in 1993. A subsequent investigation revealed that contamination is high in 268 of 465 Upozila in all. It is estimated that 3,500,000 persons are exposed to the potential of health hazard. The geological background is one of the causes of groundwater contamination, but the detailed mechanism has not been elucidated.
Here, I tried to define pollution damage and its causes in rural areas of Bangladesh. There are two gaps in our knowledge about arsenic damage: the area involved and the economic aspect. The change of groundwater use for irrigation and drinking has influenced the pollution problem. This indicates arsenic contamination is a complex process involving not only natural mechanisms but also human activity.