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Business in the Rain Forests: Corporations, Deforestation and Sustainability.

The author of this fact-filled book has tried hard to present an objective assessment of business in the rainforest. His reasons for writing are clear: "Finding ways to preserve the rain forest and promote the development of the people who live there poses a tremendous challenge. It is one of the reasons this book was written: to highlight practices that promote sustainable development--and others that do not."

This volume is packed with information on the condition of and trends in tropical forests worldwide, and on the businesses involved in their exploitation. Country-by-country accounts of forest development's impacts on ecosystems and indigenous people are referenced to credible printed sources and personal communications. Additional and larger-scale maps would have helped track references to these far-flung corners of the world. The "Company Index" lists over 450 businesses cited in chapters on the timber industry, oil production, mining, agri-business, nontimber forest products, and ecotourism.

Despite the author's care in presenting an objective assessment, the litany of devastation in these incredible forests and the resultant carnage among countless thousands of life forms, many unnamed, is painful even for those who know the story well. But even more poignant is the story of the people who live there. The indigenous people whose lives are inextricably linked to these forests are falling with the trees. Their fate validates the author's thesis that "tropical deforestation often is regarded as an environmental problem, but at its root it is a social and economic problem." And clearly, we in the developed nations are still contributing far more to those problems than to the solutions.

MacKerron tries to offer some light at the end of the tunnel by outlining possible options to exploitation through nontimber product development, ecotourism, and innovative investment strategies. But given the relentless pressures on these tropical regions by multinational extractive industries, one can only worry that the light at the end of the tunnel is just another train barreling south.
COPYRIGHT 1994 American Forests
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Copyright 1994, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Reidel, Carl
Publication:American Forests
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 1994
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