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close this bookAmazonia: Resiliency and Dynamism of the Land and Its People (UNU, 1995, 253 pages)
close this folder2. Environmental threats
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentThe myth of virginity
View the documentClimatic change
View the documentThe environmental impact of smoke
View the documentSoil erosion and floods
View the documentHydroelectric dams
View the documentThe environmental impacts of mining
View the documentPetroleum extraction
View the documentA blizzard of cocaine
View the documentHabitat destruction and the loss of biodiversity

(introductory text...)

The myth of virginity
Climatic change
The environmental impact of smoke
Soil erosion and floods
Hydroelectric dams
The environmental impacts of mining
Petroleum extraction
A blizzard of cocaine
Habitat destruction and the loss of biodiversity

Amazonia has a long history of ecological change under human agency. Hunters and gatherers probably penetrated the region tens of thousands of years ago and artificially enriched their campsites with fruit and nut trees (Smith in press). Hunters undoubtedly fired woody savannas in Amazonia, such as in Roraima, to flush game long before farmers started to clear the forest.

Slash-and-burn farming in Amazonia probably began at least 10,000 years ago, based mostly on root crops, thereby creating a rich texture of forest interlaced with second-growth communities of various heights and ages. At first, such interventions were on a minor scale, but, as the population grew denser, more and more of the forest fell to the axe.