It is hard to believe that it is nearly all gone. On flights between our field sites in Sumatra—sixth largest island in the world—and Indonesia's capital Jakarta, we used to fly over forests that seemed endless. While in these forests, we found the primary objects of our interests—gibbons, squirrels, and birds—with no great difficulty. If in those exciting years in the 1970s we had been told that in our lifetimes we would see a repeat of the nineteenth century's devastation of American forests, and that the grand and mighty lowland forests of Sumatra would go extinct, we would have scoffed. In these same three decades we have also seen conservation biology rise as a respected and attractive academic discipline, with great successes in producing journals, books, and students. But if conservation biology is ineffective in helping to stop something as globally significant as the devastation of Indonesian forests, then what, please, is the point of it? Back in Sumatra we knew of course that commercial logging was spreading. We knew local people followed the logging operations (in which they had little stake) and removed the smaller and less valuable trees, and that pioneer farmers moved in along the
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Feb 1, 2001
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