Making a Living
Slash and burn is an ecologically
harmonious method of cultivation only when the population
density--the number of people living in an area--is low. Slash and burn
requires a lot of land, since farmers must move their crops to new fields
every few years.
When too many people try
to farm the land, they cannot maintain that system of crop rotation. They
are forced to clear more and more forest for their crops. In many parts
of the Amazon, the population of an area has grown so much that slash and
burn--also known as milpa, swidden, and shifting cultivation--is very destructive
to the rain forest.