|The global importance of biodiversity|
Davis, W.P. (1993). The global importance of biodiversity, in: Fenger, M.A. et al. (Ed.) Our living legacy: Proceedings of a Symposium on Biological Diversity. pp. 23-46
In: Fenger, M.A. et al. (Ed.) (1993). Our living legacy: Proceedings of a Symposium on Biological Diversity. The Royal British Columbia Museum: Victoria. ISBN 0-7718-9355-8. XIII, 392 pp., more
The 20th century will be remembered, not for its wars or technological advances, but rather as the era in which men and women stood by and either passively endorsed or supported the massive destruction of biological and cultural diversity on the planet. Nowhere is the current crisis more intense and the outcome more significant than in the tropical rainforests, home to the greatest concentration of biological wealth on the earth. Focusing on the Amazon, but referring to Sarawak and other regions of the paleotropics, this paper introduces the extraordinary diversity of the tropical rainforests, describes their current status, and discusses the implications of the development schemes that today ride roughshod over so many of these fragile forest ecosystems. Rates of deforestation and extinction are placed in historical context and the economic, ecological and spiritual consequences of the loss of biodiversity are detailed. Ethnobotany is introduced as a science that can assist biologists in identifying the economic potential of the living forest and thus can provide policy makers with a vital means for rationalizing conservation. The past and future contributions of indigenous proples to medicine, agriculture and technology are heralded. It is suggested, however, that the ultimate gift of these traditional societies will not be natural products, but rather a new vision of life itself, a profoundly different way of living with the forest.