My research involves:
effects of mining and agricultural practices on the land in the Amazon
Determine quantitatively the effects of existing methods of agriculture
and mining on the land in the rainforest. Also provide quantitative evidence
of the effectiveness of any alternative development strategy.
Some concerns about what
I am researching:
- There is a huge
chance of overlap with other groups.
- For example, I'm
sure the alternative development group is going to be doing some of the
same research that I am doing.
- Possible solution
to this: Help to design experiments that provide concrete evidence for
their hypothesis. Their hypothesis in this case is that the alternative
farming method is better.
- Possible coveats
to this solution: This would create a bottleneck, that would lead to ineffiiciency
since one group depends on another. The amount of work done would be less
than if the groups were able to work in parallel.
- Also, perhaps
it might be wiser to work with Eva to get the baseline established. By
the time we have this done, we would have the tools and information we need
to look at changes in land characteristics. This would help significantly
in expediting my research.
- Possible coveats:
Again this would create another bottleneck, however since this bottlenect
is within the group we can reallocate resources to remain efficient.
- 60% of deforestation
is caused by shifted cultivators. These are people who are too poor to
afford more suitable land for farming. In other words, the native people
are not causing the problem.
- 10% of population
owns 90% of the land.
- Poor farmers from
outside areas attempt to utilize agricultural techniques that are not effective
in the Amazon.
Sustainable agriculture is possible, more land was
in use in the amazon during columbus's time then it is today.
- Agroforestry is
sustainable agricultural techniques developed by indiginous amazonian people.
- Polyculture - patchworks
of perenial plants, secondary growth rainforest, pasture, etc. Instead
of just clearing all land and planting one crop (monoculture)
- Perenials may be
the key. These crops produce for many years. The indiginous people use
Some sustainable agricultural
- Educate farmers
about about more effective agricultural techniques so that they clear less
land to reach same production level. AKA. increase the yield.
- Some Medicinal
Drugs are much easier to obtain from plants than from lab synthesis.
- Foods (Brazil nut,
- Food Colorants
Method: Polycultural Composition
Poor tropical soils wear quickly
lose nutrients when developed through monoculture. This leads to inefficient
use of fertilezers or additional forest being cleared.
Alternative is to plant fields of polyculture. A key component of this
polyculture is the use of perenials. Perennials help restore nutrients to
degraded soils. Some appropriate perenials to use are:
- Increased biodiversity
in that area as opposed to conventional farming methods.
- Faster recovery
when abandoned since ecological cycles are maintained.
Modern mining abandons
old tunnel mine method in favor of "heap-leach" strip mining.
Mining works in two phases
Approximately 50 tons
of rock of rock must be removed to produce one ounce of gold.
- Build extensive
network of roads
- Use drilling rig
to take 200-300 core samples of potential site
- Area is deforested
explosives are used to break layers of rocks until a hole measuring approximately
1kilometer square and 50 meters deep is obtained.
- Trucks taller
than jumbo jets are brought in to remove material to an onsite refining
- The material is
sprayed with cyanide to release microscopic deposits of gold.
- Gold is seperated
from cyanide solution by electrolysis.
Issues after strip mining
- Acid Mine Drainage
(result of oxidation)
- Resulting waste
rock is high in sulfur content and must be submerged to provent oxidation.
- Causes the slow
release of sulfuric acid
- causes heavy
metals to be released in to nearby streams
- poisons fish,
game, and people
It is estimated that
for every quarter pound hamburger made form rainforest cattle, 55 square
feet of rainforest was cleared.
Since the soil is low in nutrients, after a few years of growing grass
the soil becomes depleted of nutrients.
United States is the largest consumer of Central American Beef
- Cut down beef consumption
- Stop importing rainforest
- Current beef labeling
laws are not good enough to determine the meat's country of origin.
Finding ways to monitor
the health of the rainforest is an important goal of Mission 2006. It is the
land group's responsibility to determine the health of the rainforest in
the perspective of the land (soil composition, etc.) The question now is
what indicators should be monitored to get an accurate gauge of the health
of the soil and therefore the agricultural viability of the land in that
area. Many sources point to biological indicators as more effective measure
of the quality of the land than chemical characteristics.
"Microbiological and biochemical parameters responded more readily to changes
in land management than chemical fertility indices"(Wick et al. 2000)
In a study ((Wick et
al. 2000) that analyzed the land quality changes after converting an
area of natural caatinga forest (natural thorn forest) into an area suitable
for cattle grazing), it was found that in a paired comparison of the
soil chemical values under the tree canopies versus outside the canopies
no differences was found in total nutritent pools. However, microbial biomass
C and N, were raised by 120% and 150%, respectively, under the canopies.
The results found for alkaline phosphatase (120%) and B-glucosidase (140%).