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Amazonia

Part of the World Forests book series (WFSE,volume 12)

Abstract

Greater Amazonia—the Amazon Basin, which stretches from the Andes to the Atlantic—is roughly the size of the continental United States. It contains the largest planetary extension of humid forests as well as a complex array of more open forest formations, savanna ecosystems, and agricultural mosaics. About 40,000 plant species are found there. Historically, Amazonia was viewed as a place where ecosystems had been minimally affected by human activity, but modern archaeological discoveries ranging from anthropogenic soils, large scale earthworks, and historical ecological studies are changing this view; the region is now viewed as one of the main civilizational hearths of Latin America, on a par with the Inca, Maya, and Aztec cultures. Recent ethnographic studies of indigenous, traditional, and diasporic populations are also recasting our understanding of the extent and forms of ecosystem management from soil, succession, cultivar, and forest manipulations. These are reviewed in this chapter, and point to the complex managed forests produced today and in the past. What is clear is that there are suites of management techniques that provide income and resilience and that protect and enhance diversity while maintaining biomass through successional processes at the landscape level. This knowledge and practice certainly merit greater attention for the longer term, especially given the pivotal role of tropical forests in climate systems.

Keywords

  • Amazonia
  • Ecosystem management
  • Environmental history
  • Ethnobotany
  • Forest ecosystem management
  • Non-timber forest products
  • Terra preta
  • Traditional agriculture
  • Traditional knowledge.

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Fig. 4.1
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Fig. 4.7

Notes

  1. 1.

    Again, as mentioned above, the precise numbers and percentages depend on the particular delimitation of Amazonia that is used. For some recent alternative numbers from the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization, see GEOAmazonia 2009.

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Pinedo-Vasquez, M., Hecht, S., Padoch, C. (2012). Amazonia. In: Parrotta, J., Trosper, R. (eds) Traditional Forest-Related Knowledge. World Forests, vol 12. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-2144-9_4

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