Ancient human tree cultivation shaped Amazon landscape

UNTV News   •   March 3, 2017   •   2105

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 burning: Brazil reports record forest fires

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019

Forest fires burning in the Amazon| Courtesy: CNN / Reuters

Wildfires raging in the Amazon rainforest have hit a record number this year, with 72,843 fires detected so far by Brazil’s space research centre INPE, as concerns grow over right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro’s environmental policy.

The surge marks an 83% increase over the same period of 2018, the agency said on Tuesday (August 20), and is the highest since records began in 2013.

Since last Thursday (August 15), INPE said satellite images spotted 9,507 new forest fires in the country, mostly in the Amazon basin, home to the world’s largest tropical forest seen as vital to countering global warming.

Large portions of the country were covered in thick smoke. The state of Amazonas declared an emergency in the south of the state and in its capital Manaus on August 9. The state of Acre, on the border with Peru, has been on environmental alert since Friday (August 16) due to the fires.

Wildfires have increased in Mato Grosso and Para, two states where Brazil’s agricultural frontier has pushed into the Amazon basin and spurred deforestation.

Wildfires are common in the dry season, but are also deliberately set by farmers illegally deforesting land for cattle ranching.

The unprecedented surge in wildfires has occurred since Bolsonaro took office in January vowing to develop the Amazon region for farming and mining, ignoring international concern over increased deforestation. (Reuters)

(Production: Sebastian Rocandio)

Capiztahan Festival features seafood, agricultural products of Capiz Province

Maris Federez   •   April 13, 2019

Sumptuous seafood were on display at the Capiztahan Festival | Courtesy: Capiz Tourism and Cultural Affairs Facebook Page

The 118th charter anniversary of the Civil Government of Capiz highlights the province’s richness in agricultural and seafood products.

Among the agri products displayed in the festival are the capiz shells, abaca fiber, and cacao.

Also featured in the festivity are the sumptuous seafood varieties that are presented in the buffet table for everyone’s enjoyment.

There was an overflow of prawns, king crabs, saltwater crabs, squids, fish and oysters enough to feed an army.

Fruits also abound on the table.

Capizeños take pride of their seafood products because of the unique taste and quality.

Proof of this is the big demand for Capiz seafood products from hotels and resorts from other parts of the country.

“Ang amon mga producer, they are all happy because ginaagawan muna kun kaisa indi naton ma control ang price because naga agaw ang Boracay, naga agaw ang metro manila specially nga crabs, prawns talaba sang Capiz may ara nga quality nga manami [Our producers are happy because (merchants) outbid each other, sometimes we can no longer control the price. Those from Boracay bid against those from Metro Manila for crabs, prawns, and oysters of Capiz],” said the Capiz Governor Tony Del Rosario.

The Governor added that the province can now also export its seafood products to Hong Kong and other parts of Europe.

Meanwhile, the local government has launched a new Capiz Tourism and Culture Display Center at the Provincial Park wherein the products of the province are being showcased.

The Capiztahan Festival is an annual celebration in the province of Capiz which aims to promote the products and tourism of the province for its own economic growth. – Maris Federez (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

Fishermen discover whale carcass in Amazon mangrove

Marje Pelayo   •   February 28, 2019

Source: Instituto Bicho D’agua

A group of fishermen spotted a humpback whale carcass just off Brazil’s Amazon on Friday (February 22).

Photos taken by Instituto Bicho D’Agua, a non-profit organisation for their work on social-environmental conservation, showed the whale carcass stranded in the mangroves with its belly facing upwards.

The young male carcass was found around 15 metres from Araruna beach in Marinha de Soure Extractive Reserve in the country’s state of Para.

In a statement by the NGO, it was believed that the whale had already died around five days before reaching the shore, and the high tide had pushed the whale deeper in the mangroves before it became fully trapped.

Samples were collected to help understand the fate of the whale. – REUTERS

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