Ancient human tree cultivation shaped Amazon landscape

UNTV News   •   March 3, 2017   •   2244

File Photo: A view is seen from the Amazon Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO) in Sao Sebastiao do Uatuma in the middle of the Amazon forest in Amazonas State, Brazil, January 10, 2015. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly/File Photo

Ancient indigenous peoples had a far more profound impact on the composition of the vast Amazon rainforest than previously known, according to a study showing how tree species domesticated by humans long ago still dominate big swathes of the wilderness.

Researchers said on Thursday many tree species populating the Amazon region appear to be abundant because they were cultivated by people who populated the area before Europeans arrived more than five centuries ago. These include the Brazil nut, cacao, acai palm, rubber, caimito, cashew and tucuma palm.

“So the Amazon is not nearly as untouched as it may seem,” said study researcher Hans ter Steege, a forest community ecologist at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in the Netherlands and Free University of Amsterdam.

The researchers used data on the tree composition of forests at 1,170 sites throughout the Amazon and compared it to a map of more than 3,000 known archaeological sites representing past human settlements.

The study found that 85 tree species known to have been used by Amazonian peoples for fruit, nuts, building materials and other purposes over the past roughly 8,000 years were five times more likely to be dominant in mature Amazon forests than species that had not been domesticated.

It also found that forests closer to the pre-Columbian settlements were much more likely to boast tree species domesticated by ancient peoples.

The Amazon rainforest is a commanding natural feature in South America and one of the world’s richest biological reservoirs, teeming with plant and animal life. Much of it is situated in Brazil but parts are also in Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, Ecuador and French Guiana.

Many of the trees found in large numbers represent species critical for the livelihood and economy of Amazonian peoples. At the time of European conquest, there were an estimated 8 to 10 million people in the Amazon, speaking at least 400 different languages.

“Past civilizations have had a great role in changing, both consciously and unconsciously, the vegetation in the surroundings of their settlements and along paths that they used to travel,” added study researcher 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.

The research was published in the journal Science.

(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Amazon to protest Pentagon award of cloud contract to Microsoft

Robie de Guzman   •   November 15, 2019

San Francisco, USA – The United States tech multinational Amazon announced Thursday that it would protest the Pentagon’s award to Microsoft of a cloud computing contract valued at up to $10 billion.

Amazon’s cloud unit Amazon Web Services had been the favorite to win and already had a contract with the Central Intelligence Agency.

Its founder Jeff Bezos is often a target of US President Donald Trump’s ire. Bezos also the Washington Post – one of the news outlets most critical of the president’s administration and which has been the subject of his outbursts.

The Seattle company said in a statement that “numerous aspects of the JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure) evaluation process contained clear deficiencies, errors, and unmistakable bias, and it’s important that these matters be examined and rectified.”

“We also believe it’s critical for our country that the government and its elected leaders administer procurements objectively and in a manner that is free from political influence,” AWS said.

The comment appeared to be directed at Trump, who on July 19 called for an investigation of the Pentagon contract.

“I’m getting tremendous complaints about the contract with the Pentagon and Amazon,” Trump told reporters at the time. “I will be asking them to look very closely to see what’s going on,” he added, according to EFE/Dow Jones.

The Pentagon has more than 500 separate clouds. The JEDI contract is designed to serve as an umbrella system to rationalize that number and provide the military with access to services that better keep up with the pace of technology in civilian markets.

In addition to the economic value of the deal itself, its importance goes even further as the Pentagon’s largest technology contract in history is seen as a pioneer that other government agencies would follow.

At the time of announcing the award, the Department of Defense assured that all parties “were treated fairly and evaluated consistently with the solicitation’s stated evaluation criteria.” – EFE-EPA

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Davao cacao farmer wins world’s top 20 best cacao beans

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 1, 2019

Davao cacao farmer Jose Saguban

Davao cacao farmer Jose Saguban has won the main award for the top 20 best cacao beans in the world in the International Cacao Awards (ICA) in Paris, France.

On Wednesday (October 30), Saguban received the award in an exclusive evening ceremony held at Salon Du Chocolat 2019, in Paris, France.

Saguban is a farming partner of local chocolate brand Auro Chocolate.

The chocolate brand is also ecstatic for his achievement.

“We won!!! Not only did Mang Jose make it to the Top 50, he also won the main award for TOP 20 best cacao beans in the world,” according to their post. “It’s been a long journey since we started working with Mang Jose who was trained by our resident expert Louie on quality and proper fermentation.”

READ: Filipino cocoa farmer is among world’s best producers

In August, the ICA listed Saguban as one of the top 50 best cacao producers in the world.—AAC

Firefighters collapse from exhaustion, animals saved as wildfires rage on in Bolivia

UNTV News   •   September 20, 2019

 Firefighters battling raging wildfires in Bolivia were evacuated to hospitals in Santa Cruz on Thursday (September 19) after they collapsed from exhaustion.

Blazes have burned unabated across vast swaths of hilly forest and savannah near Bolivia’s border with Paraguay and Brazil. More than a million hectares, or approximately 3,800 square miles, have been impacted by the fires, officials have said.

The fires have left behind an uncountable death toll of flora and fauna. These animals in this refuge are the lucky ones.

This anteater has its paws bandaged after they were burnt by hot earth.

Bolivia is one of the poorest nations in the western hemisphere, but one of the richest in biodiversity. Swathes of the country has been left charred, barren from the fires and will be unable to sustain animal life for a while to come.

(Production: Monica Machicao)

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