These Farmers Slash and Burn Forests—But in a Good Way


The villagers of Hin Lad Nai, an indigenous Karen settlement in the Chiang Rai province of northern Thailand, practice “shifting cultivation,” an age-old and worldwide practice of clearing patches of forest to plant crops for a few seasons, then letting the woods return. It’s also called “swidden agriculture.”

“Hin Lad Nai forest has remained remarkably healthy, despite centuries of shifting cultivation,” says Prasert Trakansuphakon, a Thai social scientist and Karen himself who has worked with the village for years.  “And, at a time when numbers of honeybees are declining worldwide, local wild bees are thriving.”


photo: Gleb Raygorodetsky


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