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Re: Tropical forest dreams and nightmares

  • Subject: Re: Tropical forest dreams and nightmares
  • From: "Ron Iles" <roniles@eircom.net>
  • Date: Tue, 1 May 2001 15:33:37 -0500 (CDT)


Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness.  As Dr. Fisk said the commentary
was excellent and eloquent.   The dream I still have however.   Child-like
wonder and love of beauty, as you say, life-long.   The picture painted by
your goodself and by Eduardo is in part dark but it obviously cannot be all
so.  Our children of which I have none either ought to be left with a legacy
from evolution which is at least as rich as that left for us and if such as
we are involved, even richer.   As Chief Seattle said "What will happen to
the Spirit of Man
when all the Great Beasts have gone".   Indeed, the final answer is on the
horizin of our unfortunate children.

As a Biologist I had the privilege of living in Uganda for my first two
years research and it was in East Africa that I first experienced the blaze
and glory of the tropics which have energised my whole Being since.   For
many of us the yearning to experience the glorious wow is lifelong.   Sadly
for many or even most Nature is only good when things are SAFE and PRETTY,
controlled and tamed like on the other side of the tele, or in reality, the
feeble, ugly, inferior, dangerous, and so on destroyed.  I went to many
habitats from 3000 to 14,000 feet and I still regret not having gone to the
places I missed when they were unspoiled.

So now relentlessly in pursuit of answers and planning for the dream not the
nightmare to become a gloriousl reality I ask Aroid L the following innocent

1. Natural hazards aside WHICH jungle areas are relatively safe for
ecotravellers where one can wonder, film, document, record and expect to
collect samples of one's beloved plants?  In which areas, given permits, is
bureaucracy reasonably
co-operative, not antagonistic or hostile?  For Spathiphyllum the #1 region,
Colombia is apparently one of the most dangerous and a no no no go area
tragically.   I am hoping that aroiders and other collectors in
"Spathiphyllum" countries dangerous for ecotravellers already have the
indigenous species with collection data in cultivation so that they can
shared for security with environmentally very secure SPECIALIST reserve
collections,  "Genera Arks".   (Ref: the next Aroid L memo on Tropical Shade
Plant Arks)

It is the major question - WHERE are good places for teams of
environmentally and socially responsible tropical flora and fauna lovers and
growers to go?

2. Do you have experience to guide, lead, or share leadership or contribute
skills e.g. languages, filming, sound recording, first aid, cooking etc
2. WHEN is the best season?
3. WHO would like to be part of a team sensitive to each other?
4. WOULD four weeks be optimum?
5. Should we explore and collect for team members or also for others who
can't come but need our efforts on their behalf?
6. Are there existing Collecting Tour Organisers who could arrange a custom
package according to our detailed specs.  I could volunteer to help with a
progressively honed survey in planning and accomplishment.

If this is a lead balloon I will have tried.  It will then have to be DIY
for me I'll live my own wow dream and even after exhaustive preparation if
it turns out to be a nightmare or terminal, I'll still be an optimist and go
on trying!

I'm a newcomer, totally open, with everything to learn. What do you feel?
If you have a brilliant collecting trip is it open to others?



----- Original Message -----
From: "Jay Vannini" <interbnk@terra.com.gt>
To: "Multiple recipients of list AROID-L" <aroid-l@mobot.org>
Sent: Tuesday, May 01, 2001 1:24 AM
Subject: Tropical forest dreams and nightmares

| 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,
| has brought perspective, and with it, a much more sober view of their
| futures.
| 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,
| there is a very real difference between cherry-picking sites to visit to
| observe and collect neat organisms, and the realities of everyday
| and the conservation situation for much of the forest in this (the
| 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
| 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
| 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
| 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" -
| 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
| guys.
| 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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