It is estimated that between 90 and 95% of the indigenous population of the Amazon died after 1492 , because, when Europeans first arrived on the shores of South America, brutal waves of disease, war, slavery and genocide followed.
However, new measurements suggest that, in many places, land abandonment and reforestation began between 300 and 600 years before the arrival of Europeans.
Fossil Pollen Records
The Amazon is a vast region of the horizontal and northern part of South America that includes the tropical forest of the Amazon River basin.
According to this new study published in Science , then, depopulation and subsequent reforestation in the Amazon began centuries before the arrival of Europeans and did not contribute to the observed decrease in atmospheric CO2 during the 17th century .
The data suggest that, in many places, land abandonment and reforestation began between 300 and 600 years before the arrival of Europeans.
To reach these conclusions, researcher Mark Bush and his colleagues at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, evaluated the fossil pollen records of 39 places in the Amazon that record changes in forest cover during the last 2,000 years.
That does not mean, of course, that the cascading effects of environmental change, pre-European pandemics and / or social struggles may have contributed as well. However, it is possible that indigenous populations in some areas of the Amazon were already declining when Europeans arrived .