Interviews with people involved in conservation

Every few weeks or so interviews a leading expert is a field generally related to conservation, green design, or whatever other topics of interest. Here are links to the interviews. Please check this page often -- I will try to post a new interview on a monthly basis. If you want to be updated when new interviews appear and know how to use "RSS", there is an RSS feed for interviews here

Africa [not Madagascar] | Rainforests | Marine ecosystems | Other topics


An interview with Tim Davenport
Conserving wildlife in Tanzania, Africa's most biodiverse country -- 11/08/2006
With ecosystems ranging from Lake Tanganyika to Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania is the most biodiverse country in Africa. But Tanzania's wildlands and biodiversity are not safe. Fueled by surging population growth and poverty, subsistence agriculture, fuelwood collection, and timber extraction have fragmented and degraded extensive areas that are nominally protected as parks. Hunting and unsustainable use of forest products have further imperiled ecosystems and species. In the near future, climate change looms as a major threat not only to Mt. Kilimanjaro's glaciers, which are expected to disappear within ten years, but also to Tanzania's many endemic plants and animals found in its montane forests. Working to better understand these threats and safeguard Tanzania's biodiversity for future generations is Tim Davenport, Country Director for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in Tanzania.

An interview with Dr. Nina Farwig of BIOTA-East Africa
Biodiversity conservation will only work if local people benefit -- 11/19/2007
Biodiversity loss is already having an economic impact in Africa according to a 7-year monitoring project underwritten by Europeans and African governments. The project, known as the Biodiversity Monitoring Transect Analysis in Africa (BIOTA), relies on a network of biodiversity observatories equipped with weather stations, sensors and a monitoring program that includes remote sensing, data on soil fertility and agricultural indicators. Dr. Nina Farwig, a scientist at the Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz and a participating member of BIOTA-East Africa, says that conservation efforts in the tropics will only be effective if the local people benefit. Her work with BIOTA shows that even in the absence of extensive forest cover, a patchwork of agricultural landscapes can contribute to the biodiversity conservation.

Biologist Luke Hunter
Sound science and practical interventions key to saving big cats -- 05/21/2007
Big cats are some of Earth's largest and most threatened predators. As such big cats have become the focus of conservation efforts. Not only are large predators often the most vulnerable to human pressures and the first to disappear from ecosystems, but efforts to conserve them effectively help protect thousands of other species that share their habitat. At the forefront of these efforts in Dr. Luke Hunter, a biologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) where he heads their Great Cats Program.


Michelle Sauther, lemur expert at the University of Colorado-Boulder
Feral beasts threaten lemurs in Madagascar -- 02/07/2007
Dr. Michelle Sauther, an anthropologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder, is currently developing a project to assess the threat to lemurs from introduced species such as the Indian civet and mongoose, but especially dogs and cats that have become feral. Specifically she plans to examine the impact of introduced mammals on the iconic ring-tailed lemurs and Verreaux's sifaka at the Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve in Madagascar.

Charlie Welch, lemur expert at the Duke University Lemur Center
Lemur conservation in Madagascar requires poverty alleviation initiatives -- 11/05/2006
Madagascar, an island larger than France that lies off the southeastern coast of Africa, is perhaps best known for its lemurs--primates that look something like a cat crossed with a squirrel and a dog. Lemurs, which are found naturally only in Madagascar, serve as a charismatic representation of the island's biodiversity and its problems. The good news is that because of Madagascar's biodiversity, the island has become a top priority for global conservation. At the forefront of these efforts is the Madagascar Fauna Group (MFG), an international consortium of zoos and related organizations that work to protect Madagascar's wildlife and ecosystems, and the Duke University Lemur Center, the one of the world's leading lemur research facilities. Charlie Welch, currently a research scientist at the Duke University Lemur Center, recently answered some questions on his experiences in lemur conservation.

Lemur expert Dr. Patricia Wright
Conservation is saving lemurs and helping people in Madagascar -- 05/07/2007
Madagascar, an island nation that lies off the coast of southeastern Africa, has long been famous for its unique and diverse species of wildlife, especially lemurs—primates found nowhere else on the planet. In recent years, the island country has also become world-renowned for conservation efforts that are succeeding in spite of extraordinary pressures from a poor population that relies heavily on forest burning for basic subsistence. A large part of this success is due to the early efforts of Patricia Wright, a primatologist who has been working in the country for more than 20 years. Wright led the effort to launch the country's leading protected area and helped Madagascar become a leading global example of conservation despite its economic adversity.


Rainforest Interviews Only

Michael Brune, executive director of the Rainforest Action Network (RAN)
Going green is good for business -- 01/29/2007
Increasing rates of tropical deforestation in the 1970s and 1980s helped trigger the rise of several forest activist groups specifically interested in rainforests. Among the earliest of these organizations was the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) which got its start in 1985. Today San Francisco-based RAN has expanded well beyond its original mission of protecting rainforests. Recently dubbed "the most savvy environmental agitators in the business" by the Wall Street Journal, the small but efficient organization (36 staff members and a $3 million budget) pressures some of the world's largest and most respected firms to adopt wide-ranging green policies that impact everything from where they source their energy to how they finance development projects. Initially engaging firms with dialog, RAN is not afraid to employ traditional activist tactics -- including boycotts and protests -- to win over targeted companies that are slow to respond. While some of their tactics may be controversial, they are certainly effective. To date RAN has converted Citigroup, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Home Depot, and Boise Cascade.

John Cain Carter, Director of Aliança da Terra
Cattle ranchers and soy farmers can save the Amazon -- 06/07/2007
Cain Carter, a Texas rancher who moved to the heart of the Amazon 11 years ago and founded what is perhaps the most innovative organization working in the Amazon, Alianca da Terra, believes the only way to save the Amazon is through the market. Carter says that by giving producers incentives to reduce their impact on the forest, the market can succeed where conservation efforts have failed. What is most remarkable about Alianca's system is that it has the potential to be applied to any commodity anywhere in the world. That means palm oil in Borneo could be certified just as easily as sugar cane in Brazil or sheep in New Zealand. By addressing the supply chain, tracing agricultural products back to the specific fields where they were produced, the system offers perhaps the best market-based solution to combating deforestation. Combining these approaches with large-scale land conservation and scientific research offers what may be the best hope for saving the Amazon.

Dr. Robin Chazdon
Large-scale agriculture 'compromises' forest's ability to recover -- 11/19/2007
As deforestation of tropical forests continues unhindered, one of the future hopes for these damaged ecosystems is regeneration in secondary forests. Some areas that were once slash-and-burned for cattle ranching or subsistence agriculture have been abandoned, allowing scientists to study the possibility of recovery in the rainforest. If anyone has a clear idea of the potential of secondary forests it is Robin L. Chazdon. Dr. Chazdon, a full professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut, has been studying the regeneration of secondary forest for over twenty-five years. She has published over 50 papers on tropical ecology, currently she serves as an active member of the Biotropica editorial board and is a member of the Bosques Project, which measures secondary forest recovery in Northern Costa Rica.

Indonesian forest expert Ketut Deddy
Carbon credits for forest conservation concept faces challenges
But initiative could save forests and alleviate rural poverty
-- 10/22/2006
While environmentalists, scientists, development exports, and policymakers across the political spectrum are ethusiastic about the idea of offsetting carbon emissions by preventing deforestation (a concept known as "avoided deforestation" or Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD)), the concept still faces many challenges, especially in implementation. Issues range from "permanence" (whether a county can ensure that forest carbon savings are permanent) to "leakage" (what happens when carbon conservation in one area drives deforestation in another?) to baseline data establishment (how does one measure historic deforestation to establish a baseline for calculating reduction?). Further questions over land rights (will REDD trigger a land rush by industrial agiculture giants and forestry firms?) as well as how local communities will benefit (the cost of registering and establishing a REDD project may top $50,000, a nearly insurmoutable sum for communities and small-scale forest holders in some of the world's poorest countries) are also valid. Still, with deforestation and land use change accounting for as much as 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions--more than the entire transporation sector--many agree that that REDD will be an important part of a global climate change mitigation strategy. With its carbon-rich forests and peatlands, Indonesia is widely seen as having the best potential for REDD initiatives.

Dr. Philip Fearnside, Research Professor at the National Institute for Research in the Amazon in Manaus, Brazil
Global warming could cause catastrophic die-off of Amazon rainforest by 2080 -- 10/22/2006
For the Amazon, there is an immense threat looming on the horizon: climate change could well cause most of the Amazon rainforest to disappear by the end of the century. Dr. Philip Fearnside, a Research Professor at the National Institute for Research in the Amazon in Manaus, Brazil and one of the most cited scientists on the subject of climate change, understands the threat well. Having spent more than 30 years in Brazil and now recognized as one of the world's foremost experts on the Amazon rainforest, Fearnside is working to do nothing less than to save this remarkable ecosystem.

Marie-Louise Felix of WWF Guianas:
Conservationists need to work with, not against, rural poor -- 10/24/2007
Rural populations have long been demonized by conservationists, but this is changing. Increasingly, conservation groups see that without the support of rural populations, protected areas can in places be little more than ineffective "paper parks". As such, today community involvement is viewed as a critical part of any conservation program, whether it be protecting biodiversity, slowing deforestation, curtailing illegal logging and poaching, or establishing reserves.

Pierre-Michel Forget, rainforest plant expert at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in France :
France needs to act to protect French Guiana's rainforests -- 12/19/2006
Understanding relationships between plants and animals is key to understanding rainforest ecology. Dr. Pierre-Michel Forget of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in France is a renowned expert on the interdependency between rainforest trees and seed dispersers. Author of dozens of papers on tropical forest ecology, Dr Forget is increasingly concerned about deforestation and biodiversity loss in forests of the Guiana Shield region of Northern South America. In particular he sees the invasion of informal gold miner, known as garimpeiros, as a significant threat to forests in French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana and Venezuela.

Borneo scientist Rhett Harrison:
Law enforcement key to saving Borneo's rainforests -- 12/19/2006
In an interview with, Dr. Rhett Harrison, a Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) associate researcher and Secretary for the Asia-Pacific Chapter of ATBC, says that law enforcement could be the key to safeguarding biodiversity contained in Borneo's lowland parks. Harrison says there may be opportunities for conservationists to work with oil palm to developers to ensure that existing forests are not converted for plantations and that palm oil can be produced in a sustainable manner. He also adds that carbon offsets may eventually offer a means to fund conservation and sustainable development efforts in areas that still have standing forest.


William F. Laurance, president of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation
Rainforests face myriad of threats says leading Amazon scholar -- 10/16/2006
The world's tropical rainforests are in trouble. Spurred by a global commodity boom and continuing poverty in some of the world's poorest regions, deforestation rates have increased since the close of the 1990s. The usual threats to forests -- agricultural conversion, wildlife poaching, uncontrolled logging, and road construction -- could soon be rivaled, and even exceeded, by climate change and rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Rosa Lemos de Sa, Andes-Amazon Initiative lead for the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
Who pays for Amazon rainforest conservation? -- 12/11/2006
Established by Gordon Moore, founder of Intel, and his wife, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is today the largest private donor to Amazon conservation and research, doling out more than $200 million to projects in the region since 2001 (more than $358 million if you include the neighboring Andes region). The sum may represent a quarter of all money spent in the Amazon basin by non-governmental groups. In December 2006 Dr. Rosa Lemos de Sa, leader of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation's Andes Amazon Initiative, answered some questions from on the foundation's efforts.

Dr. Margaret D. Lowman, Director of Environmental Initiatives at New College of Florida
Canopy research is key to understanding rainforests -- 11/28/2006
The canopy is the most biodiverse part of the rainforest, but due to its inaccessibility, it has been notoriously difficult to study. Over the years a number different techniques have been used to learn more about this biologically rich layer. Today you can find cranes, canopy walkways, ultra-lite planes, dirigible balloons and balloon-rafts, ski-lift-style trams, and remote-controlled pulley systems being employed to provide access to the canopy. Familiar with these efforts is Dr. Margaret D. Lowman, Director of Environmental Initiatives at New College of Florida. Known as "CanopyMeg" to her friends, Lowman has been exploring the rainforest canopy for over 25 years, developing an expertise for the use of different canopy access techniques while authoring over 95 peer-reviewed publications and three books. Recognized as a world-renowned canopy expert, Lowman today focuses on science education and rainforest conservation, and frequently speaks about her adventures to groups ranging from elementary school classes to corporate executives.

Dr. Daniel Nepstad, Director of the Woods Hole Research Center's Amazon program
Amazon rainforest at a tipping point but globalization could help save it -- 06/04/2007
The Amazon basin is home to the world's largest rainforest, an ecosystem that supports perhaps 30 percent of the world's terrestrial species, stores vast amounts of carbon, and exerts considerable influence on global weather patterns and climate. Few would dispute that it is one of the planet's most important landscapes. Despite its scale the Amazon is also one of the fastest changing ecosystems, largely as a result of human activities, including deforestation, forest fires, and, increasingly, climate change. Few people understand these impacts better than Dr. Daniel Nepstad, one of the world's foremost experts on the Amazon rainforest. Now head of the Woods Hole Research Center's Amazon program in Belém, Brazil, Nepstad has spent more than 23 years in the Amazon, studying subjects ranging from forest fires and forest management policy to sustainable development. Nepstad says the Amazon is presently at a point unlike any he's ever seen, one where there are unparalleled risks and opportunities. While he's hopeful about some of the trends, he knows the Amazon faces difficult and immediate challenges.

David L. Pearson, research professor at the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University
A look at the biodiversity extinction crisis -- 10/06/2006
As tropical forests -- the world's biological treasure troves -- continue to dwindle, biologists are racing to devise ways to save them and their resident biodiversity. While many conservation biologists talk about population viability analysis and intricacies of reserve layouts, David L. Pearson, a research professor at the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe, Arizona, focuses on a different approach: education. Pearson, whose work includes hundreds of books and papers including a series of beautifully illustrated wildlife guides for regions in Latin America, believes that lack of knowledge about ecosystems is one of the most significant hurdles to addressing the present biodiversity crisis. Fluent in five languages and able to "get along" in several more, Pearson conducts week-long workshops around the world to explain the basics of biodiversity and introduce "critical thinking" to audiences that include local government officials, business people, educators, students, and environmentalists. Pearson's trips are largely self-financed, though he says seeing the enthusiasm of workshop participants in developing countries is reward in and of itself.

An interview with Amazon scientist Dr. Carlos Peres
Subtle threats could ruin the Amazon rainforest -- 11/7/2007
While the mention of Amazon destruction usually conjures up images of vast stretches of felled and burned rainforest trees, cattle ranches, and vast soybean farms, some of the biggest threats to the Amazon rainforest are barely perceptible from above. Selective logging -- which opens up the forest canopy and allows winds and sunlight to dry leaf litter on the forest floor -- and 6-inch high "surface" fires are turning parts of the Amazon into a tinderbox, putting the world's largest rainforest at risk of ever-more severe forest fires. At the same time, market-driven hunting is impoverishing some areas of seed dispersers and predators, making it more difficult for forests to recover. Climate change -- an its forecast impacts on the Amazon basin -- further looms large over the horizon.

Dr. Mark Plotkin, President of the non-profit Amazon Conservation Team
Indigenous people are key to rainforest conservation efforts -- 10/31/2006
Tropical rainforests house hundreds of thousands of species of plants, many of which hold promise for their compounds which can be used to ward off pests and fight human disease. No one understands the secrets of these plants better than indigenous shamans -- medicine men and women -- who have developed boundless knowledge of this library of flora for curing everything from foot rot to diabetes. But like the forests themselves, the knowledge of these botanical wizards is fast-disappearing due to deforestation and profound cultural transformation among younger generations. Dr. Mark Plotkin, President of the non-profit Amazon Conservation Team, is working to stop this fate by partnering with indigenous people to conserve biodiversity, health, and culture in South American rainforests. Plotkin, a renowned ethnobotanist and accomplished author who was named one of Time Magazine's environmental "Heroes for the Planet," has spent parts of the past 25 years living and working with shamans in Latin America. Through his experiences, Plotkin has concluded that conservation and the well-being of indigenous people are intrinsically linked -- in forests inhabited by indigenous populations, you can't have one without the other.

Peter Raven, director of the Missouri Botanical Garden
Biodiversity extinction crisis looms says renowned biologist -- 03/12/2007
While there is considerable debate over the scale at which biodiversity extinction is occurring, there is little doubt we are presently in an age where species loss is well above the established biological norm. Extinction has certainly occurred in the past, and in fact, it is the fate of all species, but today the rate appears to be at least 100 times the background rate of one species per million per year and may be headed towards a magnitude thousands of times greater. Few people know more about extinction than Dr. Peter Raven, director of the Missouri Botanical Garden. He is the author of hundreds of scientific papers and books, and has an encyclopedic list of achievements and accolades from a lifetime of biological research. These make him one of the world's preeminent biodiversity experts. He is also extremely worried about the present biodiversity crisis, one that has been termed the sixth great extinction.

Dr. Ranil Senanayake, chairman of Rainforest Rescue International
Sri Lanka's rainforests fast-disappearing but hope remains -- 11/06/2006
Sri Lanka, an island off the southern-most point of India, is known as a global biodiversity hotspot for its high number of species in a relatively limited area. However this biological richness is highly threatened by one of the highest deforestation rates of primary forests in the world. In that period, the country lost more than 35 percent of its old-growth forest cover, while total forest cover was diminished by almost 18 percent. Worse, since the close of the 1990s, deforestation rates have increased by more than 25 percent. Dr Ranil Senanayake, chairman of Rainforest Rescue International, a grassroots environmental organization based in Sri Lanka, says that the key to saving the island's last forests is to "reintroduce the concept of sustainable livelihood" to the people living in and around the island's rainforests by establishing "commercially viable projects that explore the social and cultural relationships between people and ecology." [Follow up: Forest carbon does not fully offset fossil carbon

An interview with Colin Young, a Belizean Ecologist
7-year old nature guide becomes Belize environmental hero as adult -- 11/16/2007
Each year hundreds of thousands of nature-oriented tourists visit Belize to see the Central American country's spectacular coral reefs, biodiverse rainforests, and ancient Mayan ruins. However few visitors realize that Belize's natural resources are at risk. Timber and oil extraction, agricultural encroachment, coastal development, pollution and unrestrained tourism are all increasing threats to Belizean ecosystems. Unless something is done to address these concerns, within a generation these pressures could present considerable problems for Belize. Dr. Colin Young, head of the environmental science program at Galen University in Belize, says that while he is greatly concerned about these issues, there is still time to ensure healthy forests and reefs in Belize.

Marine ecosystems

Dave Benton of the Marine Conservation Alliance
In Alaska, fishing industry drives marine conservation -- 7/24/2007
Alaska's fisheries are some of the richest in the world, with fishermen harvesting hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of salmon, crab, herring, halibut, pollock, and groundfish every year. However, such bounty has not always been the case. Over-exploitation and poor fisheries management in the 1940s and 1950s took a heavy toll on the industry. Born of this difficult origin, today Alaska sets the bar in fisheries management. Unusually for natural resource management, industry is leading the way, relying on dialog with scientists to determine catch levels and where to designate "no-fishing zones", while pushing for certification standards for sustainable seafood products. These efforts are coordinated by the Marine Conservation Alliance (MCA), an industry-backed nonprofit based in Juneau, Alaska. In July 2007, David Benton, executive director of the Marine Conservation Alliance, spoke with about MCA's work in Alaska.

Mike Sutton, director of conservation at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
How to save the world's oceans from overfishing -- 7/09/2007
Global fishing stocks are in trouble. After expanding from 18 millions tons in 1950 to around 94 million tons in 2000, annual world fish catch has leveled off and may even be declining. Scientists estimate that the number of large predatory fish in the oceans has fallen by 90 percent since the 1950s, while about one-quarter of the world's fisheries are overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion. Despite these dire trends, the situation is changing. Today some of the world's largest environmental groups are focused on addressing the health of marine life and oceans, while sustainable fisheries management is at the top of the agenda for intergovenmental bodies. At the forefront of these efforts is Mike Sutton, director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's conservation program: the Center for the Future of the Oceans. The aquarium, which has long been recognized as one of the world's most important marine research facilities, is pioneering new strategies for protecting the planet's oceans. Sutton says the approach has four parts: establishing new marine protected areas, pushing for ocean policy reform, promoting sustainable seafood, and protecting wildlife and marine ecosystems.

Other topics

IT conservation expert Ken Banks
Cell phones, text-messaging revolutionalize conservation approaches -- 4/15/2007
Cell phones have been adopted at a pace unmatched by any technology in the history of mankind. While conventional use of these devices continues to be the expand, mobile phones are also increasingly being viewed as tools for conservation and development. Ken Banks, currently a Visiting Fellow on the Reuters Digital Vision Program at Stanford University, understands this well. Banks established as hub for the latest information on how technology, in particular mobile phones, can be applied to tackle issues of economic empowerment, conservation, education, human rights and poverty alleviation.

Writer George Black
Global warming is a threat to fly fishing in the United States -- 2/1/2007
An estimated thirty-five million Americans fly fish. George Black is one of them. Black, based in New York City, has written two books on the subject: Casting a Spell: The Bamboo Fly Rod and the American Pursuit of Perfection and The Trout Pool Paradox: The American Lives of Three Rivers. He has also written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and a number of other publications as well as authoring three books on foreign affairs.

Dr. Alex Dehgan, Afghanistan Country Director for the Wildlife Conservation Society
Afghanistan's recovery effort drives poaching of rare wildlife -- 12/4/2006
Few people associate Afghanistan with wildlife and it would come as a surprise to many that the war-torn, but fledging democracy is home to snow leopards, Persian leopards, five species of bush dog, Marco Polo Sheep, Asiatic Black Bear, Brown Bears, Striped Hyenas, and numerous bird of prey species. While much of this biodiversity has survived despite years of civil strife, Afghanistan's wildlife faces new pressures from the very people who are charged with rebuilding the country: contractors and the development community are driving the trade in rare and endangered wildlife. This development, coupled with lack of laws regulating resource management and growing instability, complicate efforts to protect the country's wildlife. Working to address these challenges is Dr. Alex Dehgan, Afghanistan Country Director for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). WCS is working to implement the Afghanistan Biodiversity Conservation Program, a three-year project funded by the US Agency for International Development to promote wildlife and resource conservation in the country.

Author and eco-lodge pioneer Jack Ewing
True ecological tourism works in Costa Rica -- 6/12/2007
In 1970 a young man went to Costa Rica, a place he initially confused with Puerto Rico, on an assignment to accompany 150 head of cattle. 37 years and several lifetimes' worth of adventures later, Jack Ewing runs a eco-lodge that serves as a model for a country now considered the world leader in nature travel.

Carbon finance analyst Johannes Ebeling
Avoided deforestation pact could protect forests -- 12/4/2006
Tropical deforestation is one of the largest sources of human-produced greenhouse gases yet it has no place in existing climate agreements. Recent negotiations have looked at this issue from a different perspective, one where developing countries would be paid by industrialized countries for reducing their deforestation rates. Globally the payoff could be immense, extending well beyond helping mitigate global warming emissions to safeguard biodiversity and important ecological services. Johannes Ebeling, a Masters of Environmental Science student at Oxford University, just completed an analysis of the potential of carbon finance to reduce emissions and preserve forests.

Dr. K. Ullas Karanth of WCS-India
How to save tigers in India -- 11/27/2006
Over the past century the number of tigers in India has fallen from about 40,000 to less than 4,000 (and possibly as few as 1,500). Relentless poaching and clearing of habitat for agriculture have been the primary drivers of this decline, though demand for tiger skins and parts for "medicinal" purposes has become an increasingly important threat in recent years. However the news is not all bad. Research published last year showed that if protected and given sufficient access to abundant prey, tiger populations can quickly stabilize. With India's large network of protected areas and continued funding from conservation groups like the Wildlife Conservation Society, the findings provide hope that tigers can avoid extinction in the wild.

Writer Jeff Greenwald
How to travel ethically -- 11/27/2006
Big cats are some of Earth's largest and most threatened predators. Long persecuted as perceived threats to livestock and humans, hunted for their skins and purported medicinal values, and losing critical habitat to deforestation and conversion for agriculture, big cat populations have dwindled around the world for the past century. Given these trends, it should come as no surprise that big cats have become the focus of conservation efforts. Not only are large predators often the most vulnerable to human pressures and the first to disappear from ecosystems, but efforts to conserve them effectively help protect thousands of other species that share their habitat. At the forefront of these efforts in Dr. Luke Hunter, a biologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) where he heads their Great Cats Program. In a May 2007 interview with, Hunter discussed strategies for conserving carnivores and offered insight for students interested in pursuing careers in conservation science.

Biopact's Laurens Rademakers
Carbon-negative bioenergy to cut global warming could drive deforestation -- 11/27/2006
A proposed mechanism for generating carbon-negative bioenergy -- an energy source that reduces atmospheric carbon dioxide levels -- could drive large-scale deforestation in the tropics and undermine efforts to conserve forests for carbon offsets says a biofuel expert. Laurens Rademakers, a natural resource management consultant and co-founder of bioenergy research group Biopact, says that the emerging concept of coupling bioenergy production with carbon capture and storage could trigger conversion of natural forests for energy crop feedstock plantations. These plantations would not only produce income from energy production but would generate carbon credits for sequestering atmospheric carbon dioxide. Rademakers says that several tropical countries -- Nigeria, Gabon, both Congos, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Papua New Guinea, Venezuela, Ecuador -- are especially well-suited for the scheme with large offshore sequestration sites as well as conditions conducive to industrial plantations. Rademakers fears that unless other ecosystem services beyond carbon become bankable, that "bio-energy with carbon storage" (BECS) could undermine efforts to conserve forests through an "avoided deforestation" framework currently being pushed by the World Bank, the U.N., and a coalition of rainforest nations.