Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
Strengthening Capacity to Manage Ecosystems Sustainably for Human Well-Being

Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn (ASB) Crosscutting Sub-Global Assessment


Since 1994, local benchmark sites (at the watershed/landscape scale) have been established in the Amazon of Brazil and Peru, the Congo Basin forest of Cameroon, the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, the northern mountains of Thailand and the island of Mindanao in the Philippines.

Lead institutions

ASB is a system-wide programme of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). Other institutions involved are the Center for International Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the International Center for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and the Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility Programme (TSBF). ICRAF is ASB’s convening center and hosts the global coordination office in Nairobi, Kenya.

Contact information:

  • Thomas Tomich
    c/o ICRAF
    PO Box 30677
    Nairobi 00100
    Telephone: +254 2 524000
    via USA +1 650 833 6645
    Fax: +254 2 524001
    via USA +1 650 833 6646

Focal issues

The fundamental challenge of the Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn Programme (ASB) is to identify and articulate innovative policies, institutions, and technologies that can devise options to raise productivity and the incomes of rural households, without increasing deforestation or undermining essential environmental services.

Through consultation among its partners, ASB has identified priorities that include the evaluation of linkages between biodiversity and profitability and the identification of indicators for monitoring biodiversity and ecosystem health that can be used by a range of stakeholders, including community groups. Its aim is to enhance local and national capacity to develop decision support for adaptive, sustainable management of tropical forest ecosystems.

Ecosystem services being assessed

Ecosystem services highlighted in this assessment include: above- and below-ground biodiversity, carbon stocks and greenhouse gas emissions, agronomic sustainability, returns to labor, sustainable land use alternatives and hydrological, ecological and other environmental services at the watershed/landscape level.

Project outputs

  • Training and capacity building for ASB partners that will enable them to rise to the unconventional challenges they now face in balancing environment and development objectives.
  • Data and methods for assessment at the landscape/watershed scale, community-based measurement of environmental impacts, and negotiation support tools.
  • A strategic typology of key stakeholders and a better understanding of the most effective and efficient means to secure their participation in natural resource management solutions when there are conflicting interests.
  • Global (Pantropic) Synthesis of ASB Results.

Key features of assessment

These sites represent major agroecosystems of the forest margins of the humid tropics, including the Western Amazon in the neotropics, the Congo Basin, and lowland and montane Southeast Asia. Each site includes forests with globally significant biodiversity and forest-derived agroecosystems that differ in their ability to supply the various environmental functions of natural forests and in their roles in providing sustainable livelihoods. The sites represent some of the richest centers of global biodiversity that currently are under extreme threat. All ASB sites are located within the Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forest Biome that has a human population of some 500 million. The domain of ASB is this intersection of global environmental problems and poverty at the margins of the remaining tropical forests. The assessment will be user driven.

Timeframe, budget

The total expenditure over the next three years is USD 9.925 million.

This breaks down into USD 75,000 for an inception meeting to launch the crosscutting assessment, USD 500,000 for ASB local assessments, USD 1.75 million for stakeholder consultations and capacity building, USD 2 million for additional local assessment and research activities at ASB sites, and USD 5.6 million for new assessment and research activities at national/continental scale. Funding from The Earth Institute at Columbia University is providing salary for a CLA. There has been funding from the MA as well.

Funding is expected from the European Union, and ASB’s World Bank Netherlands Partnership Programme (BNPP) project on “Functional Values of Biodiversity”.