Friday, February 10, 2017

Do these ancient 'geoglyphs' hold a secret to preserving the Amazon? -

Do these ancient 'geoglyphs' hold a secret to preserving the Amazon? -

Some believe their existence implied vast land-clearing, but evidence from a recent study suggests otherwise. Rather, the geoglyph builders of millenniums past may have relied on small-scale burning to open relatively tight spaces within carefully cultivated forests, revealing sophisticated agroforestry practices that could have serious implications for current conservation efforts in both North and South America.

The new paper contributes to the growing body of research suggesting that the popular image of the pre-Columbian Americas as “pristine landscapes” is nothing more than a myth, as journalist Charles Mann argued in his book “1491.” From widespread burning of the Eastern forest in North America, to the extensive control over watersheds in the southwest, “basically a zillion archaeological studies show all kinds of human manipulation,” he tells The Christian Science Monitor in an email.

This new thinking suggests that efforts to preserve forest ecosystems in some apocryphal "natural" state through absolute control may do more harm than good, because it neglects the fact that they never were truly wild: forests evolved together with humans.

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