Since the beginning of time, Indigenous peoples have used signals from nature to guide their way of life. Their calendar is structured by the rhythm of plant growth or rains, which help them choose the best time to plant their crops. But things have changed in recent years. “The climate has totally changed,” says Yakunã Ikpeng, chief of the Arayo village inside Brazil’s Xingu Indigenous Park. “The rains have been coming late and ending before the normal time. The ipê-amarelo” — Handroanthus chrysotrichus, or golden trumpet tree — “is dropping its flowers later and the cicadas are also singing late.” Yakunã Ikpeng and his people have noticed that the world’s largest tropical forest is changing. The Amazon is less humid than it was in the past, affecting the climate in the region. Increased deforestation and the spread of urban areas into the forest have resulted in lighter and less frequent rains carried by the so-called flying rivers, the streams of water vapor that the rainforest trees release into the air. In the past, this humidity helped to control fires, one of the main methods used by Indigenous people in the region for farming. Now it offers little protection against this danger. The traditional farmers of the Xingu park, Brazil’s oldest Indigenous reserve, practice shifting agriculture. They cultivate different plots of land, moving every two years or so to allow the soil to recuperate and to preserve natural resources and biodiversity. To clear vegetation before planting, they use fire — an…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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