On aerial photos, traces of the 800-year-old raised beds are still visible. Photo: Stéphen Rostain
Read aloud Historically? and Sustainable: An international research team disproves the commonly held thesis that the original population of Amazon had operated fire-clearing field. Instead of burning their fields, the natives piled the earth into raised beds? a form of management that, according to scientists, could regain importance in times of climate change. The few paleogeological and archaeological finds from the Amazon lowlands have scientists believe so far, the original inhabitants of the Central American rainforest operated fire-clearing field. With the first conquerors at the end of the 15th century, this form of agriculture disappeared, according to popular belief. However, according to the results of a new study, it was the other way around: "The fires were on the increase with the discovery of Central America by Europeans, " explains Mitchell Power of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Together with José Iriarte from the University of Exeter and an international research team, the biogeograph in French Guiana came across traces of slightly elevated vegetable and cereal fields.
View Larger Map The C14 method was around 800 years old. Accordingly, the ancient inhabitants of the region did not use fire to provide their fields with nutrients, but rather heaped up the earth, mixed with wooden parts. on. For irrigation, small channels between the beds provided sufficient moisture and ventilation while protecting the farmland and crops from flooding during the rainy season. Ideal for the seasonal climate of the savannah, according to the researchers. The mud from these irrigation channels was used as a nutrient rich organic fertilizer. Climate-friendly model With the arrival of the Europeans, this sustainable cultivation method almost completely disappeared: a large part of the native population fell victim to introduced pathogens. On the other hand, the conquerors spread the known slash-and-burn field, assume Iriarte and his colleagues. Slash clearance only provides new nutrients for the soil for a short time. Another disadvantage: the fires release comparatively much CO 2. Photo: W. Woods In response to growing population pressure and rising demand for food, scientists suggest that they return to their original land management. "Traditional, long-term, non-fire agriculture is a real alternative to slash-and-burn: not only is it more effective in terms of producing vegetables and grains, it also releases significantly less CO 2, " explains Iriarte. Since they are one of the most biodiverse areas of the world, the savannas are among the most important ecosystems. In times of global warming, it is more important than ever to manage these areas sustainably ?, adds study leader Doyle McKey from the University of Montpelier. Traces of the 800-year-old raised beds - even today they are a profitable form of management for savannahs. Photo: Stéphen Rostain

José Iriarte (University of Exeter, Exeter) et al.: PNAS, online pre-publication, doi: 10.1073 / pnas.1201461109 © wissenschaft.de? Marion Martin

© science.de

Recommended Editor'S Choice