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People of the Tropical Rain Forest by Julie…

People of the Tropical Rain Forest

by Julie Sloan Denslow

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With an intense focus on "the future of the world's disappearing tropical rain forests", lots of important photographs, and specific and helpful text, this is one of the best descriptive compilations, edited by two American scholars.

Frontispiece: "Contrasts abound....The forest seems lush, vast, and relatively unexploited, offering an illusion of wealth and abundance, yet its soils are often too fragile for good agricultural productivity under many forms of intensive management. At the same time, many traditional forms of forest use practiced by indigenous peoples are viable only at low population densities and rarely {never} offer the economic benefits desired by modern tropical populations."

PALMS. "Of all the botanical families of trees, palms are the most extensively used. Some three hundred species of palms grow in Amazonia." [79a]

USE OF TREES. "Recent studies of four Amazonian tribes ...Urubu-Kaapor, Tembe, Panare, Chacobo..., found that on the average these groups used at least two-thirds of the tree species growing in their forests." [79a]

AGRICULTURE. From campesino swidden fields [79b] to Ludwig's tropical forestry project [Jari 166], the largest in the world.

MISSIONS and their contributions throughout these areas are not mentioned, although each contributor claims "first-hand experience in the field" [18]. Every little "business" exploitation disaster is traced -- Werner Herzog's Aguirre!, Fordlandia,

MEDICINALS. Barbasco (insecticide), Curare (muscle relaxant), rubber, chicle (leche caspi for stomach). But curiously, very little mention of hallucinogens--the ayahuasca in Amazonia is not mentioned, the hemp in Thailand is discussed as a textile, and opium described as a product for "home use".

RIBERENOS. Sensibly describes the Caboclos or Riberenos as a group with common characteristics across tribal/linguistic differences. [129]

MISC. SOURCE. Importance of mycorrhizae in symbiosis with root cells, to obtain phosphate for growth in nutrient-poor soils [34ff]; Image [37 A+]- Jungle as Evil (Ex- African Queen/ Bogart), Danger, Riches, Diversity; Empires in forest - 500 BC Burma, Champa, Funan, Srivijaya, Angkor Wat, Borobudur, etc {but no mention of SA}; Congo Basin 200 tribes and 40,000 years, with Bantu the most widespread south of the Sahara [113b]; palm heart extraction kills tree [natch 135a]; un-sustainable Indonesian transmigration effects [146]; Balinese model [185 irony]; the greatest abundance of life forms per square foot.

COMPARE THE DECIDUOUS DESTRUCTION/ RECOVERY. "Settlement of North America extended pasture and farmland at rates comparable to those now occurring in many parts of the tropical lowlands....the impact of such massive forest destruction...does not seem to have been permanent...In America north of the Rio Grande today there is more land in forest than when the pilgrims landed" [29a].

Is it alarmist then, to decry the disappearance of the tropical rain forest?

DIVERSITY. "Of all the many facets of the tropical rain forest perhaps the most difficult to grasp and the most threatened by deforestation is the diversity of its species." [29b]

FUTURE. Promises to be wretched. [91b ff] ( )
  keylawk | Nov 14, 2007 |
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