REIMAGINING THE ROLE OF INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES IN ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION
Northeast Today|June 2021
As monsoon approaches and with it, rainfall and the fear for floods and landslides, concerns for the environment will momentarily blossom, and deforestation will be cursed at once again.
TS Haokip

There will be voices describing how the practice of Jhum cultivation, a farming method predominantly practised by many tribes in the North East, has been the main culprit for the degrading ecological state and how stopping the indigenous tribals from practising ‘Jhum’ will resolve the concern altogether. But what will be ignored is the symbiotic relationship between the tribal communities and their environment being nurtured through traditional methods which have stood the test of time.

The main reason for adopting shifting cultivation by most hill tribes is to allow the fertility of the land to be restored naturally. This method is in stark contrast to the generally adopted farming practices in the plains, now being dominated by pesticides and insecticides.

Contrary to what is fervently preached by some, shifting cultivation in its original form as practised by the tribal communities did not require indiscriminate clearing of the forest; the lands which have been abandoned ad interim would be all set for re-cultivation every few years. Therefore, a farming household cultivates no more than five different lands, the cultivation of which are shifted systematically.

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