Cover image for Requiem for nature
Requiem for nature
Terborgh, John, 1936-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : Island Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xii, 234 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QH77.T78 T47 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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For ecologist John Terborgh, Manu National Park in the rainforest of Peru is a second home; he has spent half of each of the past twenty-five years there conducting research. Like all parks, Manu is assumed to provide inviolate protection to nature. Yet even there, in one of the most remote corners of the planet, Terborgh has been witness to the relentless onslaught of civilization.Seeing the steady destruction of irreplaceable habitat has been a startling and disturbing experience for Terborgh, one that has raised urgent questions: Is enough being done to protect nature? Are current conservation efforts succeeding? What could be done differently? Whatshouldbe done differently? InRequiem for Nature, he offers brutally honest answers to those difficult questions, and appraises the prospects for the future of tropical conservation. His book is a clarion call for anyone who cares about the quality of the natural world we will leave our children.Terborgh examines current conservation strategies and considers the shortcomings of parks and protected areas both from ecological and institutional perspectives. He explains how seemingly pristine environments can gradually degrade, and describes the difficult social context --a debilitating combination of poverty, corruption, abuses of power, political instability, and a frenzied scramble for quick riches --in which tropical conservation must take place. He considers the significant challenges facing existing parks and examines problems inherent in alternative approaches, such as ecotourism, the exploitation of nontimber forest products, "sustainable use," and "sustainable development."Throughout, Terborgh argues that the greatest challenges of conservation are not scientific, but are social, economic, and political, and that success will require simultaneous progress on all fronts. He makes a compelling case that nature can be saved, but only if good science and strong institutions can be thoughtfully combined.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Conservation ecology has surpassed economics as the dismal science. Unlike economics, conservation ecology is dismal not for its denseness and intractability, but for its gloomy predictions. The invisible hand of the marketplace linked with the insatiable appetite of our growing human population produces grim and depressing reading. One hopes for some optimism in this book, perhaps a positive last chapter, but it never comes. The absence of any coherent plan, of any workable compromise that might save even a fraction of the planet's biodiversity, is the dominant subtext by the book's end. Why can't a world-renowned ecologist of Terborgh's stature present a partial solution? Why are all of the options offered described as false hopes? Why hasn't the study of ecology produced clear directives? This book's failure to address such issues will force ecologists to reevaluate their goals and better understand their motivations. In the hands of a skilled teacher this book could turn a classroom of students toward meaningful action and lifelong interest in the natural world. Unfortunately, when read in isolation it only reinforces a sense of helplessness. General readers. G. Stevens; University of New Mexico