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Amazon forest ‘shaped by pre-Columbian indigenous peoples’

Overview of a deforested area in the border of Xingu river, 140 Km from Anapu city in the Amazon rain forest, northern Brazil, 19 February 2005.(Image copyright AFP ) The Amazon is the world's largest tropical forest and covers almost one third of South America

Indigenous peoples who inhabited the Amazon before the arrival of European colonisers planted a vast number of trees, a new study argues.

They played an important role in the current composition of the forest, says the study. Researchers found that species used for food or building materials were far more common near ancient settlements. "So the Amazon is not nearly as untouched as it may seem," said Dr Hans ter Steege in the Netherlands. Eighty-five species that produced Brazil nuts, cashew nuts, acai or rubber were also five times more likely to be dominant in mature forest than non-domesticated species. The scientists reached their conclusions by comparing data on tree composition from more than 1,000 locations in the Amazon with a map of archaeological sites. Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-39149334
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