Journey into Amazonia - Power Plants

Journey into Amazonia - Power Plants
by Michael J. Balick, Ph.D., The New York Botanical Garden

Green Treasure - The Useful Plants of the Amazon Valley
Since the earliest adventurers explored the Amazon Valley, their quest has been for its treasures -- minerals, oil, animal skins, precious stones and metals, to name a few. At times, they have succeeded -- gold, emeralds, petroleum, and other raw materials so important to Western civilization have been exported from this vast region. However, by "taming" the forest and extracting its wealth, biological diversity has become the victim. Gold miners have polluted the Amazon and its tributaries with their mercury and other chemicals; the search for iron and aluminum has destroyed huge areas of wilderness, converting verdant habitats to wasteland; and industrial ventures have turned millions of acres of pristine rain forest to desert-like habitat - all in the name of prosperity and economic return.

However, the richest treasure of the Amazon's biological diversity has been ignored. Millions of species of insects, animals, plants, and other organisms that inhabit this tropical wilderness are of extraordinary value to the indigenous communities and colonists that inhabit the region. From the botanist's perspective, these lands are among the richest and most diverse forests on the planet. Botanist Alwyn Gentry found nearly 300 different species of trees growing on one-hectare plots he studied in the Peruvian Amazon. These plants were trees with a trunk diameter greater than 10 centimeters, and did not include the smaller, understory plants, vines, epiphyte, etc., nor the vast numbers of fungi, insects, animals and other organisms in this biodiverse rich region. Botanists Alexander A. De Oliveira and Scott Mori reported even greater numbers of different species in the Central Amazon Valley of Brazil - more than 500 species of trees on an individual hectare, again with a trunk diameter greater than 10 centimeters.

Please visit the web site to learn more.
Comments: 0