Rattan: Ecological Balance in a Borneo Rainforest Swidden

Rattan: Ecological Balance in a Borneo Rainforest Swidden


This study provides an overview of the cultivation of rattan vines (Calamus trachycoleus) utilized in traditional swidden cultivation in Borneo, Indonesia.

Conclusions & Takeaways

Rattan is as a fiber, for furniture, or quick building material (similar to bamboo). Rattan can be cut in cycles of 7-10 years (commonly done in traditional swidden / shifting cultivation land use patterns). This study describes how tropical agriculture focuses on perennials such as rattan, coffee and cacao which are cash crops with perhaps more ecological integrity than annual cereals (but at the expense of food security). Rattan prices spiked in the 70's and 80's, causing unsustainable harvesting of wild stocks. The author argues for a more sustainable management of rattan so that it is sustainably harvested from agroforestry systems which permit food crops in addition to cash crops.



Weinstock JA. Rattan: Ecological balance in a borneo rainforest swidden. Economic Botany. 1983;37:58–68. doi:10.1007/bf02859305.


  • Department of Rural Sociology, Cornell University, Ithaca