New Guinea

By: Melissa Beck and Chris Greene

Thesis

New Guinea endured because they were experts in farming, and noticed how deforestation was affecting them and fixed it.
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Background

The early New Guinean Civilization has been enduring for 46,000 years, one of the longest living civilization. They have made incredible feats in farming, silviculture, and environmental awareness. Even though they we so successful, they still had their downfalls, including warring tribes, lived in thatched huts, little to no clothing, and old tools. Despite these, New Guinea was an excellent example on how to long lasting civilization.;
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Farming

The people of New Guinea were huge farmers. They farmed for 7,000 years and essentially that's what kept their civilization going. The techniques that they developed throughout the years are still a staple in today's farming routine. New Guinea learned to farm in all conditions including amounts of rain fall up to 400" per year. To prevent their crops from dying, they dug ditches around them to lower the water table. They became experts in drainage and irrigation. To make the soil rich all year the New Guinean people used ash, garbage, and left overs to compost. This hydrated the soil and kept it new and healthy through all weather conditions. They also used weeds, vines, and organic matter to add compost up to 16 acres long. Because some of the people of New Guinea lived high in the mountains they made terraces on steep slopes of mountains to make farming easier and closer to their homes. Soon after, they transplanted seeds near the river that needed water all the time so they had a high stock of that kind of crop while growing many others. Through 7,000 years New Guinea invented a process that many farmers still used today known as the Crop Rotation Principle. This is the practice of growing a series of dissimilar/different types of crops in the same area in sequential seasons. It helps control the soils nitrogen levels. Using this method and growing many crops for a long period of time kept their going and their economy growing making them one of the longest lasting civilizations in the world.
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Deforestation and Recovery

Deforestation was the one fault that New Guinea had. Because wood was the most used resource on the island, many forests on the island diminished. Even though they cut away most of the trees, the people of New Guinea realized the problem analyzed the situation, and fixed it. One solution to this problem was to have certain farmers only to plant trees. This is called silviculture. They utilized a special tree called the Casuarina Oligodon. The Casuarina Oligodon is fast growing, so it can make up for all the trees chopped down in a shorter amount of time a slowing growing tree might take. Additionally, the Casuarina Oligodon has root noodles that fix nitrogen, part of the essential nitrogen cycle, and important to a well growing plant. The tree also has copious leaf fall that helps with composting and making the soil around it fertile and rich. The special tree also, shortens the length of time that the site must be left fallow to recover its fertility creating more time for farming. Planting the Casuarina on slopes held the soil into the side of the mountain, and also reduced erosion of the farmland. The climate in New Guinea is very hot, so the trees cooled down the villages and helped the crops not get dried out.
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Bibliograpghy

Denham, Tim. "Early Agriculture And Plant Domestication In New Guinea And Island Southeast Asia." Current Anthropology (2011): S379-S395. Academic Search Premier. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.

Diamond, Jared M. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. New York: Viking, 2005. Print.

"History of Papua New Guinea." Princeton University. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2014.

McKie, Robin. "Jared Diamond: What We Can Learn from Tribal Life." The Observer. Guardian News and Media, 06 Jan. 2013. Web. 14 Mar. 2014. This article was posted on January 6, 2013, so it is very recent. The author is the science and technology editor for the Observer. The Guardian is a credible news paper in Britain. This article shows no bias because it is an interview of Jared Diamond, the person this project is modeled around.