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Footprints in the Jungle: Natural Resource Industries, Infrastructure, and Biodiversity Conservation

Footprints in the Jungle:  Natural Resource Industries, Infrastructure, and Biod
Ian Bowles and Glenn T. Prockett (editors)
New York: Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 

cloth, 332 p., $45

Near the Kaw Mountains in French Guiana, about 1.5 million ounces of gold wait to be claimed by an international mining conglomerate and an anxious government. Unfortunately, the gold is embedded in 17 million tons of clay; how can this gold be filtered out of the clay without destroying the incredibly diverse flora and fauna of this region? This problem is one faced by many developing countries, with enormously valuable natural resources awaiting use if only environmental concerns can be properly tempered. This book presents a special perspective on this dilemma. Edited by executives of Conservation International with extensive experience in government at the highest levels, the essays in this book offer many thoughtful solutions to specific problems in the economic development of natural resources of environmentally important regions in the world.

In five parts, essays by 38 authors are divided into several specific topics, such as oil and gas development, mining, logging and infrastructure. Each of these sections provides plenty of practical detail and commentary, making this book almost a cookbook of environmentally appropriate recipes for development. John Reid's essay on roads, for example, points out the obvious problems with road construction, but then he explains that there are four commonsense rules to follow in any infrastructure project involving roads. These rules are then demonstrated in several examples from Brazil and Bolivia.

The editors conclude this book by simply asking corporations to "contribute to biodiversity conservation and the welfare of local people" in their work. As the editors point out, this "corporate altruism" actually has a positive effect on the bottom line. Only time will tell if this book contributes to a greater corporate sensitivity to biological hot spots around the world.

— Edward J. Valauskas, Manager, Library and Plant Information Office, Chicago Botanic Garden