The Entire Amazon Basin
The Amazon is one of the last wild frontiers, running through deep rainforests where piranhas and anacondas roam free to consume C-list starlets in subpar monster movies. If there's one place on Earth that absolutely, positively isn't shaped by humanity, it's this majestic river. R-right?
pxhidalgo/iStock/Getty ImagesHumans couldn't think up half the horrors in here if they tried.
Nope! As we've mentioned in the past, Native Americans could be ecologically rapacious with the best of them. Despite the stereotype that they were harmonious one-with-nature types, indigenous peoples were masters at modifying the environment to suit their needs.
When European settlers stumbled upon the lush Amazonian wonderlands, they had no idea that the natural cornucopia about them had been meticulously landscaped by mysterious peoples not long gone who had been devastated by disease and internecine wars. These "savages" were the very architects of the Earth. They dug out terraces across the mountains of Peru and seeded the Amazon basin with fruit trees that sustained massive populations.
Washington PostPushing the smaller mom and pop rainforests out of the ecosystem.
All the older civilizations discovered in the Amazon have one thing in common: They changed the land like no one's business. Researchers have found the remains of ancient agriculture, moats, canals, dams, artificial ponds for fishing, and even a Jamba Juice ... probably! Those sumbitches are everywhere.
Indigenous peoples in Bolivia even managed to divert entire fuckin' rivers. And the soil itself was not safe from human dabbling, although in this case, our actions were in fact beneficial. Large patches of rainforest are covered in a man-made fertilizer called terra preta -- an extremely nutrient-rich "superdirt," the precise recipe of which we're still trying to figure out.
Biochar InternationalRegular Amazon soil vs. terra preta.