History of the Amazon Rainforest

The AmazonMany millions of years ago, in the Paleozoic era, all the land was part of a unique continent, the Pangaea. Salt water washed the Amazon region and possibly reached Peru and Bolivia . The end of the Paleozoic marks the incorporation of the Amazon River basin to the continent but only on the Cenozoic period great transformations took place and produced something similar to where the forest is located today. It’s in this period that South America and Africa split from each other and started to create the Atlantic Ocean . At this time the Amazon River basin flow was towards the pacific side of the continent. The other great transformation was the appearance of the Andes mountain chain which after great geological processes changed the flow of the Amazon River basin from a western direction to an eastern flow toward the Atlantic Ocean . These two transformations were responsible for the future development of the Amazon rainforest as we know it today.

Later the sea levels lowered, because of the last glacial period, and sedimentation and erosion finished drawing what we see today in maps, creating many lakes and the first river courses.

Mankind first reached the Americas from the north of Asia , in the last glacial era when both continents were linked by a frozen ocean. Facing the new land, not inhabited by any other humans the first comers quickly spread over the north and started to move down to Central and South America.

In South America they split into cultures that started to live in the mountains of the Andes, in the Amazon rainforest and others to the south the Atlantic Forest. The Andes groups and the Amazon rainforest groups, although they developed different cultures, they were in touch with each other.

The Amazon rainforest groups spread their cultures and languages in a wealthy society that had some millions of individuals at the time the first Europeans reach the continent and started the colonization. These societies shared rituals and had commerce with each other in a large social net that would be disrupted with colonization. But, in the Amazon rainforest the impact of colonization remained with low until the second half of the twentieth century when governments started a massive campaign of Amazon colonization. These campaigns, principally in Brazil , were very effective, creating roads, cities and giving benefits for migration. This is where the problems for the Amazon rainforest began, just in the last 50 years from a history of some millions of years. In the last half century 15% of the Amazon rainforest was deforested mostly by fires.

Today the world has come to realize the Amazon rainforest problems and everywhere people are concerned about what they should do to help avoiding its destruction. Public awareness of this subject started slowly in the seventies alongside with the environmental movement. In the nineties, with the World Convention on the Environment the eyes were again on the Amazon rainforest and from that event until today the public is each day more concerned and aware of what happens in the Amazon region. Government policies from the Amazon region countries already started to address these problems, but they usually lack objectivity and resources to fully implement the chosen strategies. Today, there is wide area of protected areas like National Parks, Ecologic Stations and Biological Reserves to protect biodiversity. There are also a number of indigenous reservations to preserve their cultures. These are great, but if you take a closer look you will see a lack of financial resources to keep these areas really protected, fully equipped and with operational capacity to fight all the threats that are hurting the Amazon rainforest today. Non-profit organizations aid and economic relief (debt related) can help to solve this problem.