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Scientists Chart Tanzania's Environmental History From Peat

Scientists at the University of York have charted more than 1,000 years of Tanzanian environmental history using sediments extracted from a peat bog.

Working in the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania, where only 15% of the tropical forests remain compared to 1,000 years ago, the team aimed to identify if the region's rich biodiversity had altered over the years and what major events in history, such as the emergence of the ivory trade in the Victorian period, might have contributed to changes in the forests.

Researchers took layers of peat from a bog, where material, such as pollen, charcoal from fires, and other remains from the environment, are trapped and preserved over many years in the sediments. Using radiocarbon dating techniques they were able to reconstruct how the ecosystem changed over the past 1,200 years.

David Cornwell

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