Intensive Agricultural Landscapes of Oceania

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit


Publication Date

Spring 2002


Pacific Islanders have adapted over time to a wide range of social and environmental conditions. Subsistence regimes include broad-based fishing and gathering along with horticulture, particularly the cultivation of staple tubers. Agricultural ecosystems on many islands manifest elaborate expressions of greater inputs of labor or the necessity to overcome agronomic constraints to production. Landscapes of intensive agriculture once found throughout Oceania include yam mounds, raised fields, and irrigated terracing. Most of these systems are either abandoned or greatly diminished in scale. Findings from research in the Fiji Islands exemplify some of the forms and functions of these landscapes. Field study at an active system of irrigated terraces for growing taro (Colocasia esculenta) on the remote southern island of Kadavu elucidates the dynamic operations of a gardening strategy that was once much more prevalent throughout the archipelago. Changing political economies across the region may have radically altered humanenvironment relations, but intensive agricultural landscapes endure, providing visible evidence and imparting valuable lessons for traditional cultural ecology in Oceania.


This article was originally published in Journal of Cultural Geography. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Journal of Cultural Geography