Thursday, October 30, 2014

Deforestation in Amazon and Ancient Construction Projects

By Liliana Usvat
Blog 252-365

Large areas of pristine forest in Brazil and Bolivia and was cleared for cattle grazing. 

Hundreds of circles, squares, and other geometric shapes once hidden by forest hint at a previously unknown ancient society that flourished in the Amazon, a new study says. 
Unusual earthworks, which include square, straight, and ring-like ditches, were first uncovered in 1999.
The purpose of the massive earthworks and who created them remains unknown.

The ditches were sculpted from the clay rich soils of the Amazon and are typically around 30 feet wide and 10 feet deep, alongside 3 feet high walls. However, the largest ring ditches found so far are an incredible 1,000 feet in diameter.  The purpose of the ditches remains a complete mystery. 

Many of them are clustered on a 200 metre high plateau suggested they were used for drainage or for channelling water since most were placed near spring water source.

SATELLITE IMAGES of the upper Amazon Basin taken since 1999 have revealed more than 200 geometric earthworks spanning a distance greater than 155 miles (250 kilometers). 

Until recently, it was believed that the earthworks dated back to around 200 AD. However, the latest study has revealed that they are, in fact, much older.

The sediment cores had been taken from two lakes near the major earthwork sites.  These sediment cores hold ancient pollen grains and charcoal from long-ago fires, and can reveal information about the climate and ecosystem that existed when the sediment was laid down as far back as 6,000 years ago. 

The results revealed that the oldest sediments did not come from a rain forest ecosystem at all. Rather, they showed that the landscape, before about 2,000 to 3,000 years ago, looked more like the savannas of Africa than today’s lush rain forest.

The earthworks predate the shift from savanna to rain forest, which reveals that the creators of these ditches carved them before the forest moved in around them. They continued to live in the area as it became forested.

The discovery and dating of the ditches sheds new light on life in the Amazon region thousands of years ago. Previous study have stated that the area could only support small, impermanent village. Instead, it seems likely that the Amazon teemed with complex societies immersed in a rich culture and advanced enough to undertake massive CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS  which would have required a large, co-ordinated labour force.

Here is an hypothesis.

The rain forest was planted and developed by human society intentionally using knowledge of collecting water and using this water to sustain plants trees something that present permaculture is trying to recreate . It is possible that an civilized society existed few thousands years ago on that region?

It is time to stop massive deforestation and start replanting trees and forests.

Lost History Records

The discovery adds to evidence that the hinterlands of the Amazon once teemed with complex societies, which were largely wiped out by diseases brought to South America by European colonists in the 15th and 16th centuries.

The newfound shapes are created by a series of trenches about 36 feet (11 meters) wide and several feet deep, with adjacent banks up to 3 feet (1 meter) tall. Straight roads connect many of the earthworks.

Preliminary excavations at one of the sites in 2008 revealed that some of the earthworks were surrounded by low mounds containing domestic ceramics, charcoal, grinding-stone fragments, and other evidence of habitation.

The new study suggests that the modern forest is a co production between humans and nature. Natural cycles drove the rain forest to sprout, but humans stayed on-site for 1,500 years afterward.
"It's very likely, in fact, that people had some kind of effect on the composition of the forest," "People might favor edible species, growing in orchards and things like that, [or] altered the soils, changing the soil chemistry and composition, which can have a longer-lasting legacy effect."

Causes of Deforestation in Amazon

Direct DRIVERS of deforestation including conversion of forests for pasture, farmland, and plantations, as well as surface mining, dams that inundate forested areas, and intense fires. 
Indirect drivers of deforestation include more subtle factors, like insecure land tenure, corruption, poor law enforcement, infrastructure projects, policies that favor conversion over conservation, and selective logging that create conditions or enable activities that facilitate forest clearing.