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Belterra

Trip Planner South America  /  Brazil  /  State of Para  /  Belterra
Belterra is a municipal seat and rubber plantation site some 40km south of the city of Santarém, Brazil (in the federal state of Pará) at the edge of the Planalto at 165m above sea level.Belterra was founded as a rubber plantation, after the economic failure of Fordlândia, which had been founded in 1934 by Henry Ford. The intention of the US-Department of Commerce in the 1920s was to produce rubber in Brazil and to import it to USA. The advantage of the Belterra plantation over the plantation of Fordlândia 100km to the south is the flat topography, which enables the use of machinery. In its peak time in the late 1930s some 50km2 were cultivated with Hevea Brasiliensis (rubber tree).In Belterra, new breeding methods with local varieties were applied, which prevented the leaf disease, a result of the monoculture in Fordlândia. This was very labour-intensive and therefore expensive. Together with the worldwide decline on demand on natural rubber, the plantation was not cost-effective anymore. Ford sold it to the Brazilian government, which is still running the plantation under EMBRAPA.Today, the area of the plantation is some 10- covered extensively with mainly old rubber trees. It still gives the impression of a plantation with some 1000 - 2000 inhabitants (mainly plantation workers and their families). At the peak time, it had a population of some 8 - 10,000 people. According to a 2010 census, the entire district population, including surrounding villages, is reported as 16,324.Amongst soil scientists, Belterra is famous for the underlying fertile, anthropogenic soil of 'Terra preta', which might have been amongst the criteria for the selection of this site for the plantation. While Terra Preta soil patterns occur all over the Brazilian lowland, this site is extremely well developed and also scientifically surveyed and documented
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