Palynological studies in Cherrapunjee located in Meghalaya, India have concluded that the modern grasslands of Cherrapunjee are the result of anthropogenic activity in the recent past leading to the deterioration of the primary dense forest. The forest humus was removed after extensive deforestation by human activity. Human presence in the area is indicated by Oryza Sativa, the common domesticated rice variety and Plantago lanceolata, which is a common weed of cultivated land. Like many other regions of the world, this human activity is thought to be agriculture, mainly shifting cultivation. But shifting cultivation is also practised in Garo Hills, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh where pollen profiles of the recent past do not indicate the complete disappearance of the primary dense forest. In fact, indigenous shifting cultivators across Northeast India never uproot the large trees because the root foliage holds the soil. Within six months after the plot is abandoned, the primary forest bounces back to its original form.
This study hypothesises that human activity other than agriculture was responsible for the deterioration of the primary dense forest of Cherrapunjee. The study is based on the assumption that the whole process of erecting megaliths and iron smelting technology in the area resulted in the complete destruction of the primary forest on the flat top surface of the plateau where Cherrapunjee is located.
Megaliths, Anthropogenic Impact, Environment, Iron Production, Meghalaya, India
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