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Clive Marsh. (Memorials).

1951-2000

TRIBUTE FROM A FRIEND

I first met Clive when he was an undergraduate at Bristol, studying zoology. Oundle was an important way-point. He always told me that his biology teacher at Oundle had helped kindle his interest in the biological sciences. Unbeknownst to that teacher, he had lit a fire that burned through Clive's life and being. Clive's undergraduate days were, like all of us, filled with earnest study, but also with the building of friendships and the enjoyment of all aspects of life. For this marked another of Clives's most endearing characteristics, he was always generous with his friendship. He was a person who was happy to be alive, who brought smiles and good cheer wherever he went. He was a person whose glass was figuratively half full all the time, and literally when enjoying the company of his friends at some suitable watering hole in Bristol, Nairobi, or Kuala Lumpur.

While at Bristol, Clive continued to develop his knowledge of, and passion for, zoology and the natural world. In the summer of 1971, Clive and Rob Olivier from Bristol, Andrew Laurie from Cambridge, and myself from Liverpool were fortunate enough to arrange for ourselves undergraduate projects in East Africa. Clive headed up to Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda, where he carried out a project studying pied kingfishers. After completing our project work, we all had the opportunity to travel round some of East Africa's most splendid wildlife areas: Lake Manyara, Ngorngoro Crater, the Serengeti, the Masai Mara. The experiences of that summer only served to stimulate his innate passion for nature and irreversibly define his life's vocation.

Clive then completed his undergraduate studies and immediately set off for Kenya to begin field work for his Ph.D. Clive's chosen study subject was the red colobus monkey, and his study site the riverine forest of the Tana river, close to Kenya's coast. In this remote bush location Clive built himself a rustic camp, which was to be his home for the next two to three years. During this time, Clive's innate passion for the wilderness had ample opportunity to grow and flourish as he spent thousands of hours walking through the forest carefully observing the minutiae of the daily lives of his arboreal study subjects and describing the ecology of their forest home.

As a result of his academic work and his deepening knowledge and understanding of the forest ecosystem he called home, Clive realized that scientific study was one thing, but that the very forest that he was observing and describing was itself under threat. Whereas many researchers are content to focus on their academic studies, Clive saw that he had dual responsibilities: on the one hand, to do rigorous research, but on the other, to ensure the survival of his adopted forest home. Creating new protected areas in Africa or, for that matter, anywhere, is not a simple task. But one of Clives's great qualities was his determination. As a result, he began a process that involved his intimate engagement with the local people who lived in and around the forest, with regional administrators, with Kenya's national Game Department (as it was then called), with international funding agencies and with hosts of others. As a result of these efforts, a new protected area, the Tana River Primate Reserve, was created and exi sts to this day. Such an accomplishment takes an enormous commitment, patience beyond measure, well-honed political skills and the ability to generate respect and trust amongst an enormous range of people. To see Clive sitting with village elders, engaged in intricate discussions, all conducted in Swahili, of land rights, grazing, logging, the economic benefits that could come from ecotourism, boundaries, and all the other intricate details of managing a protected area while enhancing the lives of local people, you realized what an extraordinary palette of talents were present in one individual. And you realized the appropriateness of his new nickname amongst those that knew him: Tana Bwana.

In 1976 it was time for Clive to return to Bristol to write his Ph.D thesis. By the end of 1976, Clive was duly labeled as a Ph.D. and was ready to set out on the next stage of his life's adventure. By this time he knew that his passion in life was to use his skills as an accomplished scientist to help save the great and enormously threatened tropical forests of the world. He started with three years of research in Malaysia on primate ecology and then found the ideal opportunity to pursue his vision with the Sabah Foundation. His role was a perfect fit for his skills and passion for conservation, for his job was to work within an organization whose primary mission was commercial forestry but which also had the foresight to understand the need to balance its commercial mission against the need to conserve and maintain the resources on which it depended.

Because Clive was a truly great field biologist, it was not long before he developed an intimate knowledge of the complex forest ecosystem where he now worked. And it was not long before he had identified the need for certain areas of the forest to be set aside as protected areas that would never be logged. He had also identified one of these areas that he felt was especially suitable and critical. It was called the Danum Valley and it now stands as the most enduring monument to Clive's work and professional life as a scientist and conservationist. As a result of Clive's initiative and his solid grounding in science, combined with outstanding political skills, he was able to persuade the Sabah Foundation to create the 438 sq.km Danum Valley Conservation Area, which also included a 60 bed field center to promote research and education. In May 1995 full legal protection of the area was achieved when it was converted to a Class I Protection Forest Reserve, becoming Sabah's largest protected area of lowland fores t. The Danum Valley also contains an ecotourism lodge, The Borneo Rainforest Lodge, which opened for business in 1994. Again, this is a product of Clive's creative thinking and incredible genius at bringing complex projects to fruition.

Not satisfied with his substantial contribution to conservation, Clive set out on a new project in 1992 in which he set up one of the world's first pilot projects to test whether economic incentives could be used to trade carbon credits. The object of this concept is for carbon dioxide producers, such as power companies in industrialized countries, to buy rights to emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by paying countries such as Malaysia to maintain their forests, which act as sinks to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gas levels. Although there is much discussion in progress at present, this type of program may be able to contribute to long-term reductions in global warming, one of the most serious threats facing the globe today. On a visit to Washington to present this project to the Smithsonian Institute and undertake complex negotiations related to its implementation with the usual Washington suspects, such as The World Bank, Clive turned to me and remarked, "Well, now I suppose I have become a used -carbon salesman."

Clive's final years as scientist and conservationist were spent in Laos working for the IUCN trying to promote the conservation of some of the least-known tropical forests in the world in a country just emerging from the onslaughts of war and communism. I have read some accounts of Clive's unfinished opus from colleagues and the same characteristics again shine through in their unqualified admiration of his professional ability to combine the science and politics of conservation in achieving the objective of saving forests.

In spite of the hectic pace C live kept with his professional responsibilities in Sabah, he knew that there was something missing in his life. When he was lucky enough to cross paths with Iggy, the wonderful woman who became his wife, he found out what that something was. In due time, as nature took its course, they were blessed with the birth of their two sons, Marco and Carl. Based on my observations and accounts from friends and colleagues who saw more of Clive, it is quite evident that Clive turned all his energy, skills and passion into the challenges and joys of fatherhood to become, in Marco's own words, "the best dad in the world." There was nothing that Clive enjoyed more than taking his family to share the wild places he so cherished himself.

Clive, the new millennium did not treat you very well but for all of us here and your absent friends from round the world, a final farewell. We will remember your life and your friendship as long as we all ourselves live. The Danum Valley and the Tana River are your eternal living legacy. We hope you find new forests to explore on your new journey. (Written with love by your friend, Chris Tuite, Oxford). [Editor's note: This version of Dr. Tuite's tribute has been shortened from the original.]
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:field biologist, conservationist, Malaysia
Author:Tuite, Chris
Publication:Borneo Research Bulletin
Article Type:Obituary
Geographic Code:9MALA
Date:Jan 1, 2001
Words:1515
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