Humans changed the ecosystems of Central Africa more than 2,600 years ago

by Dajia Bergeron on March 13, 2018 - 10:07pm

The article written by GeoForschungsZentrum Postdam, Hemholtz Centre explains that humans have adjusted the ecosystem so that it can meet their needs for many years. Some lakes are now dead and straight while trees are planted in rows just for the benefits of humankind. For a significant time, there has been a debate in Central Africa about the Amazonian rainforest. After extensive research in Southern Cameroon about the “rainforest crisis”, it was discovered that the transformation was not caused by climate change but by humans. About 20 years ago, Lake Barombi was analyzed and displayed that the old residue layers had a very high amount of different types of pollen meaning that the forest had different species of trees. While the newer residue layers had a great portion of grassland pollen. It was also found that the large amounts of grassland pollen arrived about 2,600 years ago but the forest recovered around 600 years later. For a long time, it had seemed clear that the only reason for the “rainforest crisis” was because of a lower precipitation rate. The postdoctoral researcher from the University of Postdam, Yet Garcin and his team believe that there are also other reasons to the transformation of the rainforest. After many experiments, they discovered that the vegetation changed during the crisis but that it was not because of the change in rainfall. They also say that there is no proof that climate change was the cause of the crisis but that there is proof about humans having been the main cause of the damage. They claim that it might have been because of an increasing population. The population increase in Central America could be linked to the Bantu-speaking people, they used pearl millet cultivation, palm oil and iron metallurgy. This meant that they had make the environment useful for their needs by remodelling what was around them while not knowing the consequences. Archeological information and the results of the residue layers from lake Barombi shows a very strong possibility that humans also had a big impact on the forests in Central Africa.


In my opinion, humans are a big part behind climate change. Everything we do has an impact on the environment even if it’s big or small. In the article, people 2,600 years ago did not know what climate change was and were probably not informed enough about the impact they had on the world. Now that we know the impact humans have on ecosystems, it is crucial to be aware of the impact and try to work with the environment instead of adjusting it to our needs.

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