How pristine are Amazonian forests?

Pre-Columbian human impact in the Bolivian Amazon 

Dr José Iriarte

Archaeological evidence from the Bolivian Amazon suggests that pre-Conquest Amazonia was not a pristine wilderness, as commonly thought, but was instead a densely populated and managed cultural landscape. Funded by the Leverhulme Trust and with paleoecologist Francis Mayle (Geosciences, Edinburgh), archaeologist Heiko Prümers (German Archaeological Institute) and remote sensing specialist Ian Woodhouse (Geosciences, Edinburgh), this project aims to use a cross-disciplinary approach to tackle several unanswered questions about this culture, including: when and how these seasonally flooded savannas were transformed into agricultural landscapes? What crops were cultivated in the raised fields? What role fire played in the transformation of the landscape and, more importantly, what was the environmental impact and ecological legacy of these human transformations?