10. Garbage in the Camp

The camps do more than merely improve the lighting conditions and supply the seeds needed for the regeneration of useful plants. Vast amounts of organic matter and minerals are brought into the camp in the form of food, fuel and other everyday things. These daily things are consumed and disposed of, and eventually, the organic matters and minerals accumulated there return to the soil nearby. The earth of tropical rain forests is said to be infertile, but the camps of the forest people are in a way spots concentrating soil nutrient materials, which are scattered throughout the forest within plants and animals. According to our estimate, the food consumed by a group of 50 people (average size of a camp) over a one-month period contains as much nitrogen equivalent as roughly 200-250kg of ammonia sulfate. This is not something that people do intentionally. Human beings living in a place bring together nutrients to such an extent, and unless they are thrown away into the rivers or disposed of in a similar manner, they return to the soil. While the resources in the nearby forest may be consumed and decreased in the short term, the conditions for their future regeneration are prepared precisely through such consumption.

Garbage in the camp

A world where forests and people coexist:
Mbuti Pygmies of the Ituri Forest, Central Africa

>>Next Page