London -- The Inca civilization might have grown from one of the world's
most successful Green movements, according to scientists.
Pollen and soils from the sediment of an ancient lake in the Peruvian
Andes have provided evidence of a land ravaged by environmental
disaster that the Incas reversed using modern environmental techniques.
Within 100 years of taking over the land, they had produced a verdant
country that could support 15 million people.
"If the Incas can put a large rural population back on the land by
readdressing a degraded landscape with agro-forestry, terracing and
irrigation canals, it should be possible to follow their example," said Alex
Chepstow-Lusty, a plant scientist at Cambridge University, who led the
study. "There is no reason why the situation could not be repeated.
Probably the most important issues facing the world today are how land
degradation and climatic change can bring about the collapse of
Mr. Chepstow-Lusty was investigating the rapid rise of the Inca
civilization, which lasted from 1438 to 1536 and, at its height, reached
from southern Colombia to central Chile. It had no written languages, so
scientific examination of lake sediment is of great value in learning about
the society by monitoring changes in vegetation.
The results, some of which are published in two journals next month,
show even by 2000 BC the land was deforested and dominated by
The core shows the founders appear to have planted the native Aliso
tree, which halted soil erosion. At the same time, evidence from
archaeologists shows that they built highland terrace systems and stone
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