• What is agriculture?

    Habitat can be altered by many human activities including agriculture. Agriculture (also described as farming) is the cultivation of animals, plants and other life forms for major agricultural products which can be broadly grouped into foods, fibres, fuels, and raw materials. The history of agriculture dates back thousands of years, and its development has been driven and defined by greatly different climates, cultures, and technologies. However, all farming generally relies on techniques to expand and maintain the lands suitable for raising domesticated species. For plants, this usually requires some form of irrigation and in the developed world, industrial agriculture based on large-scale monoculture has become the dominant system of modern farming. The term slash-and-burn agriculture is mainly associated with tropical rain forests and involves the cutting and burning of forests to create fields. Most slash-and-burn agriculture is subsistence agriculture done by farmers who plant and raise crops for local consumption. The expansion of commerical agriculture, particularly for oil palm and biofuel production, and slash and burn activities, are the most recently cited agricultural activities that pose a threat to great ape populations. For example the rapid expansion of oil palm plantations in recent years probably represents the greatest single agricultural threat to orangutan survival in Sumatra (Wich et al., 2011)

  • How important is this threat compared to others?

  • Why is it a threat to great apes?

  • Is agricultural activity dangerous for all species in the same way?

Compiled and edited 2011 by Kay H. Farmer
Reviewed by Hjalmar Kuehl, Josephine Head and Neba Funwi-Gabga

  • References