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This article describes some of the incredible ancient Amazonian civilizations, how they were uncovered, and how they cultivated crops in the Amazon rainforest.  With new levels of deforestation, ranchers and researchers started to uncover “geoglyphs”, or ancient workings of the land, that keyed them into how people lived and how many people lived in the Amazon.  Researchers originally thought that only some thousand ancient people lived on the outskirts of the rainforest, but these new geoglyphs suggest that instead, millions of people were supported by miles and miles of rainforest (instead of just the edges).  Forest composition and plant remains point to ancient cultivation of polycultures alongside indigenous plants by selective burning and planting.  This means that domesticated crops, such as cashews and cacao, were grown alongside rainforest palm trees and other vegetation.  The use of these polycultures, versus a monoculture, is an increase in soil health and soil nutrients, while still being able to produce crops on a similar level to that of a monoculture.  The article ends with an interesting comment on conservation efforts – conservationists should look to past peoples and their sustainable practices, instead of following the “pristine ecosystem” stereotype, to achieve a world that doesn’t have to kick people off their ancestral land while being environmentally sustainable.



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Youth Voices is an open publishing and social networking platform for youth. The site is organized by teachers with support from the National Writing Project. Opinions expressed by writers are their own.  See more About Youth VoicesTerms of ServicePrivacy Policy.All work on Youth Voices is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License


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