Winner of the Society for Economic Botany's Mary W. Klinger Book Award.
Cultural Forests of the Amazon is a comprehensive and diverse account of how indigenous people transformed landscapes and managed resources in the most extensive region of tropical forests in the world.
Until recently, most scholars and scientists, as well as the general public, thought indigenous people had a minimal impact on Amazon forests, once considered to be total wildernesses. William Balée’s research, conducted over a span of three decades, shows a more complicated truth. In Cultural Forests of the Amazon, he argues that indigenous people, past and present, have time and time again profoundly transformed nature into culture. Moreover, they have done so using their traditional knowledge and technology developed over thousands of years. Balée demonstrates the inestimable value of indigenous knowledge in providing guideposts for a potentially less destructive future for environments and biota in the Amazon. He shows that we can no longer think about species and landscape diversity in any tropical forest without taking into account the intricacies of human history and the impact of all forms of knowledge and technology.
Balée describes the development of his historical ecology approach in Amazonia, along with important material on little-known forest dwellers and their habitats, current thinking in Amazonian historical ecology, and a narrative of his own dialogue with the Amazon and its people.
The Amazon rain forest covers more than five million square kilometers, amid the territories of nine different nations. It represents over half of the planet’s remaining rain forest. Is it truly in peril? What steps are necessary to save it? To understand the future of Amazonia, one must know how its history was forged: in the eras of large pre-Columbian populations, in the gold rush of conquistadors, in centuries of slavery, in the schemes of Brazil’s military dictators in the 1960s and 1970s, and in new globalized economies where Brazilian soy and beef now dominate, while the market in carbon credits raises the value of standing forest.
Susanna Hecht and Alexander Cockburn show in compelling detail the panorama of destruction as it unfolded, and also reveal the extraordinary turnaround that is now taking place, thanks to both the social movements, and the emergence of new environmental markets. Exploring the role of human hands in destroying—and saving—this vast forested region, The Fate of the Forest pivots on the murder of Chico Mendes, the legendary labor and environmental organizer assassinated after successful confrontations with big ranchers. A multifaceted portrait of Eden under siege, complete with a new preface and afterword by the authors, this book demonstrates that those who would hold a mirror up to nature must first learn the lessons offered by some of their own people.
Destruction of tropical rain forests has increased exponentially in recent years, as have efforts to conserve them. However, information essential to these conservation programs—an understanding of the population dynamics of the community at risk—is often unavailable to the scientists and resource managers who need it most.
This volume helps fill the gap by presenting a comprehensive description and analysis of the animal community of the tropical rain forest at El Verde, Puerto Rico. Building on more than a decade of field research, the contributors weave the complex strands of information about the energy flow within the forest—who eats whom—into a powerful tool for understanding community dynamics known as a food web. This systematic approach to organizing the natural histories of the many species at El Verde also reveals basic patterns and processes common to all rain forests, making this book a valuable contribution for anyone concerned with studying and protecting these fragile ecosystems.
Heart of Palms is a clear-eyed memoir of Peace Corps service in the rural Panamanian village of Tranquilla through the eyes of a young American woman trained as a community forester.
In the storied fifty-year history of the US Peace Corps, Heart of Palms is the first Peace Corps memoir set in Panama, the slender isthmus that connects two continents and two oceans. In her memoir, Meredith Cornett transports readers to the remote village of Tranquilla, where dugout canoes are the mainstay of daily transportation, life and nature are permeated by witchcraft, and a restful night’s sleep may be disturbed by a raiding phalanx of army ants.
Cornett is sent to help counter the rapid deforestation that is destroying the ecosystem and livelihoods of the Panama Canal watershed region. Her first chapters chronicle her arrival and struggles not only with the social issues of language, loneliness, and insecurity, but also with the tragicomic basics of mastering open-fire cookery and intrusions by insects and poisonous snakes. As she grows to understand the region and its people, her keen eye discerns the overwhelming scope of her task. Unable to plant trees faster than they are lost, she writes with moving clarity about her sense of powerlessness.
Combating deforestation leads Cornett into an equally fierce battle against her own feelings of fear and isolation. Her journey to Panama becomes a parallel journey into herself. In this way, Heart of Palms is much more than a record of her Peace Corps service; it is also a moving environmental coming-of-age story and nuanced meditation on one village’s relationship to nature. When she returns home two years later, Cornett brings with her both skills and experience and a remarkable, newfound sense of confidence and mission.
Writing with rueful, self-deprecating humor, Cornett lets us ride along with her on a wave of naïve optimism, a wave that breaks not only on fear and intimidation, but also on tedium and isolation. Heart of Palms offers a bracing alternative to the romantic idealism common to Peace Corps memoirs and will be valued as a welcome addition to writing about the Peace Corps and environmental service.
The essays collected here offer important new reflections on the multiple images of and rhetoric surrounding the rain forest. The slogan “Save the Rain Forest!”—emblazoned on glossy posters of tall trees wreathed in vines and studded with monkeys and parrots—promotes the popular image of a marvelously wild and vulnerable rain forest. Although representations like these have fueled laudable rescue efforts, in many ways they have done more harm than good, as these essays show. Such icons tend to conceal both the biological variety of rain forests and the diversity of their human inhabitants. They also frequently obscure the specific local and global interactions that are as much a part of today’s rain forests as are the array of plants and animals. In attending to these complexities, this volume focuses on specific portrayals of rain forests and the consequences of these characterizations for both forest inhabitants and outsiders.
From diverse disciplines—history, archaeology, sociology, literature, law, and cultural anthropology—the contributors provide case studies from Latin America, Asia, and Africa. They point the way toward a search for a rain forest that is both a natural entity and a social history, an inhabited place and a shifting set of ideas. The essayists demonstrate how the single image of a wild and yet fragile forest became fixed in the popular mind in the late twentieth century, thereby influencing the policies of corporations, environmental groups, and governments. Such simplistic conceptions, In Search of the Rain Forest shows, might lead companies to tout their “green” technologies even as they try to downplay the dissenting voices of native populations. Or they might cause a government to create a tiger reserve that displaces peaceful peasants while opening the doors to poachers and bandits. By encouraging a nuanced understanding of distinctive, constantly evolving forests with different social and natural histories, this volume provides an important impetus for protection efforts that take into account the rain forest in all of its complexity.
Contributors. Scott Fedick, Alex Greene, Paul Greenough, Nancy Peluso, Suzana Sawyer, Candace Slater, Charles Zerner
In the Rainforest takes us to Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia, revealing a colorful and bizarre world where fish live on fruit, spiders prey on birds, and violets grow to the size of apple trees.
"I recommend In the Rainforest as scientific journalism at its best, and [Caufield's] book as the one to read to become informed about the tropical crisis. Caufield traveled the world, went to the difficult places, sometimes beautiful and often dispiriting, mastered the important ideas, and talked to an impressive number of people on all sides of the issues. . . . There are villains in abundance: corrupt government agents who aid in the destruction of native tribes, greedy caballero landowners, and even the governmental planners who with the best of intentions rush heedlessly toward the environmental degradation of their own countries."—E. O. Wilson, Science
"The whole book is filled with amazing facts. . . . Moving and informative."—Ellen W. Chu, New York Times Book Review
La Selva, a nature reserve and field station in Costa Rica, is one of
the most intensively studied and best-understood tropical field sites
in the world. For over thirty years, La Selva has been a major focus
of research on rainforest ecology, flora, and fauna. This volume
provides the first comprehensive review of this research, covering La
Selva's geographical history and physical setting, its plant and
animal life, and agricultural development and land use.
Drawing together a wealth of information never before available in a
single volume, La Selva offers a substantive treatment of the
ecology of a rainforest. Part 1 summarizes research on the physical
setting and environment of the rainforest, as well as the history of
the research station. Some chapters in this part focus on climate,
geomorphology, and aquatic systems, while others look at soils,
nutrient acquisition, and cycles of energy.
Part 2 synthesizes what is known about the plant community. It begins
with chapters on vegetation types and plant diversity, and also
explores plant demography, spatial patterns of trees, and the impact
of treefall gaps on forest structure and dynamics. Other chapters
address plant physiological ecology, as well as plant reproductive
Part 3 covers the animal community, summarizing information on the six
best-known animal taxa of the region: fishes, amphibians, reptiles,
birds, mammals, and butterflies. This part includes an overview of
faunal studies at La Selva and a chapter on animal population biology,
which examines animal demography and abundance, and interactions
between predators and prey. Part 4 addresses interactions between
plants and animals and the effects of these interactions on species
Part 5 considers the impact of land use and agricultural development
on La Selva and other areas of Costa Rica. One chapter examines land
colonization and conservation in Sarapiqui, another covers subsistence
and commercial agricultural development in the Atlantic lowlands
region, and a third looks at the forest industry in northeastern Costa
Rica. This part also assesses the role and research priorities of La
La Selva provides an introduction to tropical ecology for
students and researchers at La Selva, a major source of comparative
information for biologists working in other tropical areas, and a
valuable resource for conservationists.
For thirty years David G. Campbell has explored the Amazon, an enchanting terrain of forest and river that is home to the greatest diversity of plants and animals to have ever existed, anywhere at any time, during the four-billion-year history of life on Earth.
With great artistic flair, Campbell describes a journey up the Rio Moa, a remote tributary of the Amazon River, 2,800 miles from its mouth. Here he joins three old friends: Arito, a caiman hunter turned paleontologist; Tarzan, a street urchin brought up in a bordello; and Pimentel, a master canoe pilot. They travel together deep into the rainforest and set up camp in order to survey every woody plant on a two-hectare plot of land with about as many tree species as in all of North America.
Campbell introduces us to two remarkable women, Dona Cabocla, a widow who raised six children on that lonely frontier, and Dona Ausira, a Nokini Native American who is the last speaker of her tribe's ages-old language. These pioneers live in a land whose original inhabitants were wiped out by centuries of disease, slavery, and genocide, taking their traditions and languages with them. He explores the intimate relationship between the extinction of native language and the extirpation of biological diversity. "It's hard for a people to love a place that is not defined in words and thus cannot be understood. And it's easy to give away something for which there are no words, something you never knew existed."
In elegant prose that enchants and entrances, Campbell has written an elegy for the Amazon forest and its peoples-for what has become a land of ghosts.
Stretching from the redwoods of California to the vast stands of spruce and hemlock in southeast Alaska, coastal temperate rain forests have been for thousands of years home to one of the highest densities of human settlements on the continent. Given its mild climate, magnificent scenery, and abundant natural resources, the region should continue to support robust economies and vibrant communities for many years to come. However, the well-being of this region is increasingly threatened by diminishing natural capital, declining employment in traditional resource-based industries, and outward migration of young people to cities.The Rain Forests of Home brings together a diverse array of thinkers -- conservationists, community organizers, botanists, anthropologists, zoologists, Native Americans, ecologists, and others -- to present a multilayered, multidimensional portrait of the coastal temperate rain forest and its people. Joining natural and social science perspectives, the book provides readers with a valuable understanding of the region's natural and human history, along with a vision of its future and strategies for realizing that vision.Authors describe the physical setting and examine the geographic and evolutionary forces that have shaped the region since the last glacial period, with individual chapters covering oceanography, climate, geologic processes, vegetation, fauna, streams and rivers, and terrestrial/marine interactions. Three chapters cover the history of human habitation, including an examination of what is known about pre-European settlement, a consideration of the traditions of local and indigenous knowledge, and a description of the environmental and cultural upheaval brought by European explorers and settlers. The book concludes with an exploration of recent economic and cultural trends, regional and local public policy, information gathering, and the need for integrating local knowledge into decision making.Interspersed among the chapters are compelling profiles of community-level initiatives and programs aimed at restoring damaged ecosystems, promoting sustainable use of resources, and fostering community-based economic development. The case studies describe what coastal residents are doing to combine environmental conservation with socioeconomic development, and document some of the most innovative experiments in sustainable development now underway in North America.The Rain Forests of Home offers for the first time a unified description of the characteristics, history, culture, economy, and ecology of the coastal temperate rain forest. It is essential reading for anyone who lives in or cares about the region.
Rainforests have long been recognized as hotspots of biodiversity—but they are crucial for our planet in other surprising ways. Not only do these fascinating ecosystems thrive in rainy regions, they create rain themselves, and this moisture is spread around the globe. Rainforests across the world have a powerful and concrete impact, reaching as far as America’s Great Plains and central Europe. In Rainforest: Dispatches from Earth’s Most Vital Frontlines, a prominent conservationist provides a comprehensive view of the crucial roles rainforests serve, the state of the world’s rainforests today, and the inspirational efforts underway to save them.
In Rainforest, Tony Juniper draws upon decades of work in rainforest conservation. He brings readers along on his journeys, from the thriving forests of Costa Rica to Indonesia, where palm oil plantations have supplanted much of the former rainforest. Despite many ominous trends, Juniper sees hope for rainforests and those who rely upon them, thanks to developments like new international agreements, corporate deforestation policies, and movements from local and Indigenous communities.
As climate change intensifies, we have already begun to see the effects of rainforest destruction on the planet at large. Rainforest provides a detailed and wide-ranging look at the health and future of these vital ecosystems. Throughout this evocative book, Juniper argues that in saving rainforests, we save ourselves, too.
While tropical rainforests have received much conservation attention and support for their protection, temperate and boreal rainforests have been largely overlooked. Yet these ecosystems are also unique, supporting rainforest communities rich in plants and wildlife and containing some of the most massive trees on Earth.
Temperate and Boreal Rainforests of the World brings together leading scientists from around the world to describe the ecology and conservation of these lesser-known rainforests in an attempt to place them on par with tropical rainforests in conservation efforts. The book
summarizes major scientific findings
presents new computer models that were used to standardize rainforest definitions
identifies regions previously not widely recognized as rainforest
provides the latest estimates on rainforest extent and degree of protection
explores conservation strategies
The book ends with a summary of the key ecological findings and outlines an ambitious vision of how we can conserve and manage the planet's remaining temperate and boreal rainforests in a truly ecological way that is better for nature, the climate, and ultimately our own welfare.
Temperate and Boreal Rainforests of the World is a call to action for an accord to protect the world's rainforests. It offers a global vision rooted in ecological science but written in common language useful for governments, decision makers, and conservation groups concerned about the plight of these remarkable forests.
We live in an increasingly fragmented world, with islands of natural habitat cast adrift in a sea of cleared, burned, logged, polluted, and otherwise altered lands. Nowhere are fragmentation and its devastating effects more evident than in the tropical forests. By the year 2000, more than half of these forests will have been cut, causing increased soil erosion, watershed destabilization, climate degradation, and extinction of as many as 600,000 species.
Tropical Forest Remnants provides the best information available to help us
understand, manage, and conserve the remaining fragments. Covering geographic areas from Southeast Asia and Australia to Madagascar and the New World, this volume summarizes what is known about the ecology, management, restoration, socioeconomics, and conservation of fragmented forests. Thirty-three papers present results of recent research as
well as updates from decades-long projects in progress. Two final chapters synthesize the state of research on tropical forest fragmentation and identify key priorities for future work.
In 1800, the highlands of Sri Lanka had some of the most biologically diverse primary tropical rainforest ecosystems in the world. By 1900, only a few craggy corners and mountain caps had been spared the fire stick. Highland villagers, through the extension of slash-and-burn agriculture, and British managers, through the creation of plantations—first of coffee, then cinchona, and finally tea—had removed virtually the entire primary forest cover.
Tropical Pioneers documents the conversion of a tropical rainforest biome and the collision between what previously had been more discrete ecological zones within South Asia. The ecological impacts were transformational. Author James L. A. Webb, Jr., demonstrates that profound ecological disruption occurred in the central highlands of Sri Lanka during the nineteenth century and suggests that the theme of ecological crisis brought about by the integration of tropical ecological zones during precolonial and colonial periods alike is an important one for historians to investigate elsewhere.
Tropical Pioneers is based on extensive research in the National Archives of Sri Lanka, the National Agricultural Library at Gannaruwa, the Library of the Royal Asiatic Society-Ceylon Branch, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, the Public Record Office of the United Kingdom, and the British Library.
Synthesizing theoretical and empirical analyses of the processes that help shape these unique ecosystems, Tropical Rainforests looks at the effects of evolutionary histories, past climate change, and ecological dynamics on the origin and maintenance of tropical rainforest communities. Featuring recent advances in paleoecology, climatology, geology, molecular systematics, biogeography, and community ecology, the volume also offers insights from those fields into how rainforests will endure the impact of anthropogenic change. With more than sixty contributors, Tropical Rainforests will be of great interest to students and professionals in tropical ecology and conservation.