Tropical forest and swidden agriculture are declining, while commercial plantation is continuously expanding. However, little is known about the mechanisms, processes and trends of the tropical forest-swidden-plantation (FSP) nexus. Global ongoing initiatives including the UN-REDD Programme, not only have repeatedly emphasized the significance of conserving forests, reforestation and afforestation, but re-pushed swidden agriculture to the forefront of a long-standing international debate of climate changes and biodiversity. Many facets limit our understanding of swidden agriculture. The lack of geographic and demographic data and their dynamics across the tropics undoubtedly further aggravate this situation since the first appeal of eradication of shifting cultivation by the FAO. Although recent studies have enriched significantly our knowledge of forest loss and plantation expansion, previous research has proceeded separately and has yet to be integrated under the umbrella of sustainable swidden agriculture. Efforts are needed to investigate the dynamics of the FSP nexus for sake of a synergetic goal of climate mitigation and poverty alleviation.