The Last Forest: The Amazon in the Age of Globalization

Mark London, Author, Brian Kelly, Author . Random $25.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-679-64305-0

The conventional wisdom is that the Amazon River basin and the unique flora and fauna of its fecund rainforests—half of the remaining forest on earth—are on the brink of ecological disaster. Not necessarily so, say the authors of this combination of wonkish policy paper, astute reporting and firsthand adventure narrative, who revisited Brazil's forested middle provinces 25 years after writing their first book, Amazon . Vast swaths of rainforest have indeed fallen to road development, cattle ranching, soy farming and clear-cut logging (including the decimation of mahogany trees). An estimated 3% of the forest was gone in 1980, when London and Kelly made two 100-day journeys through the Amazon. Now, 20% is gone. But there's still hope for "good things to happen," they say, as Brazil's 20-year-old democracy tries to balance economic growth with international environmental concerns. Leading sustainable rainforest development is Brazilian environment minister Marina Silva, who rose from unschooled peasant daughter of an impoverished rubber-plant tapper to win a Senate seat, then became "the most important person in the Amazon" after the 2002 election of Brazil's current president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The portrait of her humble beginnings and thoughtful activism humanizes this fact-filled, sometimes dry book. (Feb. 6)

Reviewed on: 11/13/2006
Release date: 02/01/2007
Ebook - 978-1-58836-588-0
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