Breakfast for Biodiversity

This book gives an interesting perspective about the rainforest that differs from other similar reads.  In the Preface the author states:

We can appreciate the temptation to focus on the facts of rain forest destruction, and we agree that the nature of the problem itself is quite worthy of persistent propaganda. This, we suppose, is why all the books say the same thing—tropical rain forests are useful and beautiful, yet they are being destroyed.  That the problem needs to be brought to the attention of the public, we agree. But once alerted to the problem, the public asks what to do. Causes must be addressed, and we feel that most of the popular literature on the subject does not do it adequately.

I think we have all been a victim of rainforest destruction related proaganda. It is everywhere from news articles, food labels, posters, T-shirts– you name it! However, does this issue deserve this attention? What is really happening to the rain forest?

The book describes some of the major areas of concerns in the rainforest as well as their causes.  The book discusses the destruction of large plots of land in order to grow banana trees, which are a major export and cash crop for Central America.  This farming industry has elicited the need for logging operations.  These loggers kept only a handful of valuable trees species alive and remove the rest.

By the 1930s, the land along almost all the rivers was deforested and planted with bananas, while the surrounding forest was riddled with trails made for dragging logs.  The logging process intensified in the late 1940s and 1950s, when machinery was brought into the areas and a complex network of logging roads crisscrossed what forests remained after the inroads already made by the banana plantations.

However, as Americans, can we honestly tell other countries to protect their forests when we have nearly destroyed ours to extinction? Over the last 200 years we have destroyed 95% of our natural forests for industrialization purposes.  How can we condone telling other countries to not do the same?

This book gives interesting strategies for rain forest conservation.  One being the development of an egalitarian society.

Our social construction of the rain forest is distinct from those of a local peasant farmer, a banana company executive, or an indigenous person living in the forest.  We believe that as (and if) society evolves into a more egalitarian form, some of these distinctions will tend to diminish.

It is also mentioned that “backlashers,” which are groups who emphasize the needs of local people, have not helped reduce the destruction of the rainforest.

The strategies of the conservationists criticized by the backlashers were born of the realization that razor wire fences and armed guards will not protect rain forests in perpetuity.

Perhaps the destruction of the rainforest is simply a reflection of the lack of social justice and opportunities for people who live in these areas to choose a lifestyle that doesn’t involve harming the environment they live in.

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