Fate of the Forests
|Summary||Where there are indigenous peoples, there are healthy forests.|
The Guaraní are helping to sustain the largest remaining patch of the Atlantic rainforest in Argentina, an ecosystem of which only 7% remains.
RECENTLY I HAVE been studying the ethnobotany of the Guaraní people of Misiones Province in Argentina. One day I was out in the forest with a knowledgeable local man called Elvio. When we came across a flowering plant known there as guembe (Philodendron bipinnatifidum), Elvio pointed out that when this plant flowers it is an indication that it is time to plant maize and other crops because there will be no more frost. He then stated that this is how it used to be, but it is no longer as reliable as an indicator because everything appears to be changing.
Another day we were privileged to see two beautiful migrating swallow-tailed kites circling overhead. Again Elvio pointed out that the annual arrival of this bird used to be a portent that it is time to plant, but that it was not as reliable a signal as it used to be.
Ghillean Prance writes in Resurgence 250 Sept/Oct 2008