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Tropical Forests and the Human Spirit

Journeys to the Brink of Hope

Roger D. Stone (Author), Claudia D'Andrea (Author)

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Tropical forests are vanishing at an alarming rate. This book, based on extensive international field research, highlights one solution for preserving this precious resource: empowering local people who depend on the forest for survival. Synthesizing a vast amount of information that has never been brought together in one place, Roger D. Stone and Claudia D'Andrea provide a clearly written and energizing tour of global efforts to empower community-based forest stewards. Along the way, they show the fundamental importance of tropical forest ecosystems and deepen our sense of urgency to save them for the benefit of billions of rural people in tropical and subtropical regions as well as for countless species of plants and animals.

In their travels to research this book, the authors saw many remarkable examples of how proficient even the poorest local people can be in stabilizing and recovering formerly destitute forests. With engagingly written case studies from Thailand's Golden Triangle to Mindanao in the Philippines, from Indonesia, India, and Africa to Brazil, Mexico, and Central America, they introduce us to the communities and the individuals, the governments, the loggers, the agencies, and the local groups who vie for forest resources. Contrasting community-based efforts and traditional forest management with government and donor efforts, they discuss the many reasons why international institutions and national governments have been unable and unwilling to stem the accelerating loss of tropical forestland.

This book argues we are paying a terrible price--politically, economically, and environmentally--for allowing tropical forests to be stripped. Community-based forestry is no panacea, but this book clearly shows its effectiveness as a management technique.
List of Illustrations

Part I.
The Dismal Record
1. Forest Use and Misuse
2. Why Tropical Forests Decline

Part II. Stirrings in the Field
3. The Road to Bendum
4. Village Forests in India
5. Conservation in Indonesia
6. Africa's Cornucopia and Scorpion
7. Learning from Latin America

Part III. The Way Ahead
8. Shifting the Balance
9. Helping from Afar
10. Future Imperatives

Further Reading
Roger D. Stone is Director and President of the Sustainable Development Institute and author of The Nature of Development (1992), The Voyage of the Sanderling (1991), and Dreams of Amazonia (1985). Claudia D'Andrea is Research Associate at the Sustainable Development Institute.
"This book is a remarkably personal report of the authors’ trans-tropical experiences with forest dwellers. The experience was extensive, sometimes spanning years, and the report is the work of professional reporters, experienced at reaching to the core of critical issues of life and survival. The story is not a pretty one, and the prognosis is not good. But in their eyes the key lies in restoring and defending the rights of forest dwellers and encouraging in every way their age-old interest in preserving the integrity of forest lands. The authors are familiar with the international agencies and their programs, their successes and failures. Roger Stone was intimately involved in the World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development and draws heavily on that experience. The book will strengthen the conclusions of that Commission to the effect that the world’s future lies heavily entangled with the continuity of forests globally, and that continuity hinges on respect for local interests."—George M. Woodwell, Director, Woods Hole Research Center

"For twenty years, we have watched TV specials on the destruction of tropical forests -- an acre a second lost, every second for twenty years. This beautifully written book takes you right to the middle of the current international debate about what to do about it. It pulls no punches and proposes its own provocative solution. It offers a perspective that cannot be ignored and an answer that needs to be tried."—James Gustave Speth, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Science

"For more than a century, the conservation movement has dedicated its energy to protecting the Earth’s biodiversity. WWF has built its conservation philosophy and foundation for over forty years on principles of sound science, effective public policy, and recognition of the fundamental role local people bring to achieving tangible conservation results on the ground. Roger Stone and Claudia D’Andrea take us on a tour of the tropical forested regions of the world and capture important lessons about the merits of local control over forest resources. Their wide-ranging portrayal of community-based forest management arrangements, set within the global context of deforestation and loss of biodiversity, provides compelling testimony to the wisdom of empowering local people and nurturing their spirit as effective forest stewards."—Kathryn S. Fuller, President, World Wildlife Fund

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