Accepted Paper:

The making of the forest: past human impact on species distribution in the southern Brazilian highlands  
Jonas Gregorio de Souza (University of Exeter)Mark Robinson (University of Exeter)

Paper short abstract:

We combine excavation data, radiocarbon dating, anthracology and GIS at the site and regional levels to explore past human management of the forest in the southern Brazilian highlands. We point to future directions of research to test the potential human impact on the distribution of useful species

Paper long abstract:

Human impact on forest composition has been at the centre of the most recent debates about the prehistory of the southern Brazilian highlands, mainly in relation to the spread of Araucaria angustifolia (Parana pine). In this paper, we show how our multidisciplinary project in Campo Belo do Sul, Santa Catarina, can shed new light on that problem. Combining data from archaeological excavation, radiocarbon dating, anthracology and GIS modelling, we show future directions of research in human-environment relations. At the site level, we explore a domestic context from a pit house site (Baggio 1), where an unprecedented sequence of burnt roofs allowed us to assess the importance of palms as constructive material - even though this species appears to be rare in the modern natural vegetation. This data suggest potential past management of Syagrus romanzoffiana and other native palms, besides Araucaria angustifolia. We contrast our finds with the present day vegetation that is the result of recent deforestation and abandonment of traditional practices such as the encouraging of useful species (e.g. palms). Moving to the regional level, we explore ways of modelling the possible natural extension of Araucaria angustifolia, and discuss how future research can test the degree of human management in the distribution of that species

Panel P31
Indigenous populations-vegetation-climate relationship in the past: what can this teach us about sustainable vegetation use in the present?