Humans Shaped Forests 11,000 Years Ago

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The Remnants of Prehistoric Plant Pollen Reveal that Humans Shaped Forests 11,000 Years AgoThe discoveries could boost indigenous populations’ claims to ancestral lands long thought to be untouched by human activity

A tropical forest writes much of its history at large scale, producing trees as tall as skyscrapers and flowers the size of carry-on luggage. But by zooming in, scientists are uncovering chapters in forest history that were influenced by human activity far earlier than anyone thought.
 

A new study of pollen samples extracted from tropical forests in southeast Asia suggests humans have shaped these landscapes for thousands of years. Although scientists previously believed the forests were virtually untouched by people, researchers are now pointing to signs of imported seeds, plants cultivated for food, and land clearing as early as 11,000 years ago—around the end of the last Ice Age. 
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Rainforests In Far East Shaped By Humans For The Last 11,000 Years

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New research from Queens University Belfast (and Cambridge University) shows that the tropical forests of South East Asia have been shaped by humans for the last 11,000 years.

The rain forests of Borneo, Sumatra, Java, Thailand and Vietnam were previously thought to have been largely unaffected by humans, but the latest research from Queen’s Palaeoecologist Dr Chris Hunt suggests otherwise.

A major analysis of vegetation histories across the three islands and the SE Asian mainland has revealed a pattern of repeated disturbance of vegetation since the end of the last ice age approximately 11,000 years ago.

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