One promising area of research looks at ancient societies that lived in the Amazon rainforest before the arrival of Europeans in the 15th century. Apparently these populations were able to enrich the rainforest soil, which is usually quite poor, using charcoal and animal bones. By improving soil quality, large areas of the Amazon that have already been deforested could be used to support agriculture. This could reduce pressure on rainforest areas for agricultural land. Further, the “terra preta” soil as it’s called, could help fight climate change since it absorbs carbon dioxide, an important greenhouse gas.
By Rhett Butler
Date published: June 24, 2004 | Last updated: March 21, 2014