Widespread reforestation before European influence on Amazonia

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Science  30 Apr 2021:
Vol. 372, Issue 6541, pp. 484-487
DOI: 10.1126/science.abf3870

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Pre-Columbian reforestation in Amazonia

An early 17th-century temporary reduction in global atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels has now been attributed to reforestation in Amazonia after the catastrophic loss of life of the indigenous population caused by diseases brought by European invaders. Using fossil pollen data from Amazonian lake sediments with temporal resolution over the past millennium, Bush et al. found that forest recovery began 300 to 600 years before the population crash. The more recent nadir in atmospheric CO2 was not associated with rapid reforestation at that time. The vegetation changes appear to be the result of changing patterns of land use in the centuries preceding the European arrival and the resulting devastation, whereas the cause of the CO2 decline remains enigmatic.

Science, this issue p. 484

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