woensdag 15 september 2010

Anthropogenic Forest Islands and Fallows

Forest islands are common throughout the savannas and wetlands of Amazonia. Forest islands range in size from a few hectares to many square kilometers. Most are raised less than one meter and often surrounded by ponds or a moat-like ditch. Excavations in forest islands in the Llanos de Mojos and Pantanal document their anthropogenic origins and use for settlement, farming, and agroforestry (Erickson 2000a, 2006; Walker 2004; Langstroth 1996). In Bolivia, archaeologists estimate the existence of 10,000 forest islands (Lee 1995; CEAM 2004). The Kayapó of Central Brazil create forest islands (apêtê) of improved soils through additions of organic matter from household middens and recycling of crop debris for intensive cultivation of crops (Posey 2004; Hecht 2003). These anthropogenic features are known for their high biodiversity and agrodiversity of improved soils through additions of organic matter from household middens and recycling of crop debris for intensive cultivation of crops (Posey 2004; Hecht 2003). These anthropogenic features are known for their high biodiversity and agrodiversity.

Forest island in the savanna, Machupo River, in 2006.

Listen to William Balée (Historical Ecology: Premises and Postulates):
The landscapes that I call fallows represent a projection of culture onto nature through time. These are living landscapes, even if they have traditionally (and erroneously) been understood to be primary forests by foresters, ecologists, and phytogeographers alike. Fallows exhibit many species, … that occur nowhere else in the terra firme. They are as biologically rich as the high forest in the same region, but they harbour many species unique to them, and many more that only gain ecological importance in areas disturbed by indigenous agroforestry . These species may be collectively considered as semidomesticates.  


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