Terra Preta - Recovering the Past, Regaining the Future of Amazonian Dark Earths

Terra Preta, dark earths of the Amazon

The Terra Preta program is an international and interdisciplinary program focusing on soils with high fertility found in the Amazon basin. These soils are known as “Amazonian Dark Earth” or “Terra Preta", and are the result of past human activities. Terra preta challenges conventional theories on environmental limitation in the Amazon basin, and offers a major inspiration for (re-)creating soils for sustainable agriculture.

The overall objective of the Terra Preta program is to contribute to the improvement of the livelihood of smallholders living in Amazonia, through information on the sustainable use and conservation of Terra Preta and the creation of similar soils. Our working hypothesis is that creating Terra Preta (Terra Preta Nova or Terra Mulata Nova) is a sustainable way for Amazonian smallholders to increase agricultural production while simultaneously reducing pressure on the Amazonian forest.

The Terra Preta program combines an interdisciplinary framework that links the natural and social sciences with a comparative approach by working in several countries (Bolivia, Brazil and Colombia) that differ in environmental conditions and social aspects.