Ancient people had a great impact on the Amazon landscape. The development of the vast rainforest was influenced by the tree cultivation of indigenous populations. The new study indicated how many tree species were domesticated by people living in this area a long time ago. These species of trees still dominate the wilderness in the Amazon.
- Ancient indigenous people had a great impact on the tree cultivation.
- They domesticated what was known as untamed jungle.
- Species like cacao, acai palm and rubber were cultivated here.
On March 2, researchers claimed that several tree species which are found in the Amazon region are abundant due to the fact that indigenous people cultivated them five centuries ago. They had occupied this area before Europeans arrived here. Thus, species like tucuma palm, cashew, caimito, rubber, acai palm, cacao and Brazil nut were cultivated in the area.
Hans ter Steege, a forest community ecologist at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in the Netherlands and Free University of Amsterdam, claimed that the Amazon is not an untamed territory as it was previously believed. Scientist used information regarding the tree composition of forests at 1,170 different sites across the Amazon.
They compared the results to a map of about 3,000 archaeological sites which represented ancient indigenous settlements. The results of the research indicated that approximately 85% of all tree species which were known to have been cultivated by Amazonian inhabitants for building materials, food or other purposes in the past eight thousand years appeared to be five times more likely to dominate Amazon forests compared to species which were not domesticated.
Another fact which was revealed after the study was that those forests which were in the vicinity of pre-Columbian settlements were more likely to have tree species which were predominant because they were domesticated by ancient people. Scientists remind us that the Amazon rainforest represents the richest biological reservoir in the world, abundant in animal and plant life.
The most of the rainforest is located in Brazil while the rest is also in French Guiana, Ecuador, Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru. Many of these tree species which were found in great numbers are crucial for the economy and likelihood of Amazon people. During the European conquest, there lived about eight to ten million people in the Amazon. They spoke about four hundred different languages.
Carolina Levis, a doctoral candidate in ecology at Brazil’s National Institute for Amazonian Research and the Wageningen University and Research Center in the Netherlands, argued that ancient people played a significant role in changing the vegetation in the surrounding areas of their settlements.
Image courtesy of: wikipedia