The anthropogenic origin of the Amazonian dark earths (Terra Preta de Índio) was first verified more than 70 year ago. However, the last 30 years have seen a massive wave of scientific investigation, public interest and an ever-expanding intensification of commercial activity toward all things connected to “Terra Preta.” Today, the dominant concept, which drives current research, is that of binding atmospheric carbon with artificially concocted dark earths. The large-scale production of Terra Preta is said to be an effective tool in efforts to mitigate global warming. This text attempts to provide a history of the knowledge on Amazonian dark earths. It not only focuses on scientific aspects but also considers traditional indigenous knowledge. The position is taken that without indigenous knowledge, modern Terra Preta research would not exist; a view, which has profound implications for the ethical evaluation of all further, applied Terra Preta Nova research and commercial endeavors.
Part of the book: Ecosystem and Biodiversity of Amazonia