chapter  8
Degradation under pre-capitalist social systems
Pages 14

A Degradation and adaptive land management in the ancient Pacific Piers Blaikie and Harold Brookñeld, with William Clarke The Pacific islands, and the great island of New Guinea/Irian, have been the focus of a remarkable amount of research into the history of people and their land. There follows a detailed examination of the unique situation in the central highlands of Papua New Guinea where sustained-yield wetland farming evolved some 9000 years ago - as long ago as in the Middle East - but where society remained isolated and evolved its production system without any direct contact with the outer world. In the New Guinea highlands, one crop introduction is shown to have had a dramatic effect during the last 300 years, but except in the swamps the earlier history of land use and its consequences remains imperfectly known. We begin, therefore, with a discussion of an older degradation in some small islands further east in the Pacific, where highly significant changes took place between 2000 and 1000 years ago.