Economic Botany

, Volume 65, Issue 1, pp 85–99 | Cite as

Secondary Forests on Anthropogenic Soils of the Middle Madeira River: Valuation, Local Knowledge, and Landscape Domestication in Brazilian Amazonia

  • André Braga JunqueiraEmail author
  • Glenn Harvey ShepardJr.
  • Charles R. Clement


Secondary Forests on Anthropogenic Soils of the Middle Madeira River: Valuation, Local Knowledge, and Landscape Domestication in Brazilian Amazonia. Anthropogenic forests and soils are widespread throughout Amazonia and are the product of the landscape domestication process carried out by Amazonian societies since pre-Colombian times. Areas of Terra Preta de Índio (TPI, Amazonian Dark Earths) are recognized by local rural residents and associated with specific forms of use and management of these soils and associated secondary forests. We used a quantitative approach to investigate how secondary forests on TPI are recognized and used by local residents along the middle Madeira River, Central Amazonia. Sixty-two residents were interviewed in three riverside communities and listed the ethnospecies and their uses in secondary forests on TPI and on non-anthropogenic soils (NAS). Local residents mentioned more ethnospecies on TPI (mean ± standard deviation: 19.5 ± 8.9) than on NAS (17.4 ± 8.5), and the use value of the environment to the informants (UVia) was higher on TPI (19 ± 5.7) than on NAS (16.2 ± 6.0). Eleven ethnospecies were classified as anthropogenic soil indicators, among which three intensively used palms are widely recognized as indicators of anthropogenic areas and two are domesticated to some degree. The intimate and lasting interactions between humans and TPI have favored the maintenance of secondary forests in these domesticated landscapes with a diverse assemblage of useful and domesticated species. Rural residents in Amazonia recognize these forests as an important source of food and other resources. The use, management, and traditional knowledge related to these domesticated landscapes may provide useful information for the understanding of Amazonian historical ecology and for the design of more efficient biodiversity management and conservation plans.

Key Words

Ethnobotany Amazonian Dark Earths traditional forest management traditional knowledge quantitative ethnobotany 


Florestas secundárias sobre solos antrópicos do médio Rio Madeira: valoração, conhecimento local e domesticação da paisagem na Amazônia Brasileira. Florestas e solos antrópicos são amplamente distribuídos na Amazônia e são resultado do processo de domesticação da paisagem pelas sociedades Amazônicas desde tempos pré-Colombianos. Áreas de Terra Preta de Índio (TPI) são reconhecidas por moradores locais e associadas com formas específicas de uso e manejo desses solos e das florestas secundárias associadas a eles. Utilizamos uma abordagem quantitativa para investigar como as florestas secundárias sobre TPI são conhecidas e utilizadas por moradores locais no médio Rio Madeira, Amazônia Central. Sessenta e dois moradores foram entrevistados em três comunidades ribeirinhas e listaram etnoespécies e os seus usos em florestas secundárias em TPI e em solos não-antrópicos (NAS). Os residentes locais mencionaram mais etnoespécies em TPI (média ± desvio padrão: 19,5 ± 8,9) do que em NAS (17,4 ± 8,5), e o valor de uso do ambiente para os informantes (UVia) foi maior em TPI (19 ± 5,7) do que em NAS(16,2 ± 6,0). Onze etnoespécies foram classificadas como indicadoras de solos antrópicos, entre as quais três palmeiras intensivamente utilizadas e amplamente reconhecidas como indicadoras de áreas antropogênicas, duas das quais domesticadas em algum grau. As interações íntimas e duradouras entre humanos e TPI nessas paisagens domesticadas favoreceram a manutenção de florestas secundárias com uma diversa assembléia de espécies úteis e domesticadas. Moradores locais na Amazônia reconhecem essas florestas como uma fonte importante de alimentos e de outros recursos. A utilização, manejo e o conhecimento tradicional relacionados a essas paisagens domesticadas podem fornecer informações úteis para o entendimento da ecologia histórica da Amazônia e para o desenvolvimento de estratégias mais eficientes de manejo e conservação da biodiversidade.



We are grateful to all the residents of Água Azul, Barreira do Capanã, and Terra Preta do Atininga for their participation and friendship. André Braga Junqueira received a graduate scholarship from the Brazilian National Research Council (CNPq), and this work is part of his master’s dissertation at INPA. The Brazilian International Institute of Education (IIEB) / The Moore Foundation provided financial support, and IdeaWild provided equipment for fieldwork. We thank Ana Catarina Jakovac, James Angus Fraser, Bruce Walker Nelson, Laura German, Lin Chau Ming, and William Balée for improving earlier versions of this manuscript. Charles R. Clement is a fellow of CNPq.

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • André Braga Junqueira
    • 1
    Email author
  • Glenn Harvey ShepardJr.
    • 2
  • Charles R. Clement
    • 1
  1. 1.Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia, Coordenação de Pesquisas em Ciências AgronômicasManausBrazil
  2. 2.Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, Departamento de AntropologiaBelémBrazil

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