Indigenous Knowledge on Soil Potential and Swidden Sustainability: A preliminary observation from Sabah, Malaysia
This paper is an attempt to reevaluate the argument for the most commonly used indicator to assess the swidden sustainability – the fallow period. Using a co evolutionary approach developed by Richard Noorgard (1994), the author argued that it is not sufficient to rely on length of fallow alone to determine swidden sustainability. By comparing planting spacing of two swidden communities in Sabah, it was found out that, the scientific understanding of relationship between fallow period and soil suitability for farming does not fully explain the farmer’s fallow management strategy. Investigation shows that, indigenous knowledge of soil potentials is more crucial to understand the swidden practice as well as possible tools for making more accurate sustainability assessments.
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