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Re: Tropical forest dreams and nightmares

  • Subject: Re: Tropical forest dreams and nightmares
  • From: "Eduardo Goncalves" <edggon@hotmail.com>
  • Date: Tue, 1 May 2001 09:28:59 -0500 (CDT)

Dear Jay,

  I agree completely with you! (except for the toooooooo formal "Mr. 
Goncalves!!!!") :0)
  It would be a pity if my children (that still donīt exist) have to include 
the rainforests at the same cathegory as Dinosaurs, Trilobites and Dodo 

                            Best wishes,

        Eduardo, leaving tomorrow morning to the Amazonian rainforest.

>From: "Jay Vannini" <interbnk@terra.com.gt>
>Reply-To: aroid-l@mobot.org
>To: Multiple recipients of list AROID-L <aroid-l@mobot.org>
>Subject: Tropical forest dreams and nightmares
>Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2001 19:23:13 -0500 (CDT)
>Ron: I also enjoy opening your e-mails on aroid-L - like Irish malt, 
>kinda weird but very tasty.
>Having spent the last twenty-seven years romping around New World and 
>tropical forests, I hope that I haven't lost any of my original wide-eyed
>wonder and  enthusiasm for these wonderful ecosystems. Experience, however,
>has brought perspective, and with it, a much more sober view of their
>While, in deference to Neil, I know that there are still many incredible
>places that are fairly easily accessed, as a long-time resident of a
>tropical country, I would have to agree with Eduardo Goncalves that, today,
>there is a very real difference between cherry-picking sites to visit to
>observe and collect neat organisms, and the realities of everyday fieldwork
>and the conservation situation for much of the forest in this (the northern
>Neotropics) region. Today, sadly, many of the only places where one can 
>many desirable tropical "goodies" be they fish, fowl or fern, are  a few
>besieged protected areas and thus, are morally and legally off limits to 
>average amateur collector.
>Ron, with the exception of Costa Rica and a very few other Latin American
>nations, I would not expect any open-armed welcome of foreign biologists to
>take back samples of whatever happened to strike their fancy. Perhaps
>Malesia or parts of west Africa is different. Mr. Goncalves' nightmare
>scenario (presumably regarding Brazil) does represent the extreme case
>regarding some governmental attitudes towards bio-prospecting in general,
>and foreign devils in particular. It shud be common knowledge that there 
>now many well-trained, competent, multilingual biological researchers 
>in most of these countries. Granted, such may have not been the case ten or
>twenty years' ago. My personal experience both as a naturalist and a
>"player" in the Central American natural resources' conservation game is
>that I have never met a field biologist in this region that I didn't like,
>and never met a local bureaucrat/forestry/wildlife official that I did!
>The truth is that most of these nations have their own agendas for
>(mis)managing natural resources, and many of these agendas respond to
>(surprise!) local economic and social pressures, rather than good science 
>any sense of "global good". These pressures, unfortunately, often result in
>what are widely regarded as misguided policies (transmigration, mammoth
>hydroelectric projects, expanding the agricultural frontier onto marginal
>lands, etc.) that result in short-term populist gains and long-term
>environmental degradation. And with the most affluent nation in the world
>today seemingly unable to resist the temptation to leave untouched the
>miniscule area of pristine habitat remaining within its borders, it would 
>the height of hypocrisy for anyone to wag fingers at developing nations'
>environmental follies.
>BTW - there are multidisciplinary teams that roam the world's tropical
>forests to increase our awareness of biodiversity "hotspots" - Conservation
>International used to have one of the best in their Rapid Assessment 
>before an air accident took the lives to two of their most talented field
>En fin, let us all hope, against all the dreary evidence to the contrary,
>that some of our planet's most awe-inspiring places survive our own
>lifetimes to allow our children have "rainforest dreams", too.
>Jay P.

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