Managing the Wild Stories of People and Plants and Tropical Forests Charles M. Peters

Publication date:
10 Apr 2018
Yale University Press
208 pages: 210 x 140 x 19mm
23 b-w illus.
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Drawn from ecologist Charles M. Peters’s thirty‑five years of fieldwork around the globe, these absorbing stories argue that the best solutions for sustainably managing tropical forests come from the people who live in them. As Peters says, “Local people know a lot about managing tropical forests, and they are much better at it than we are.”
With the aim of showing policy makers, conservation advocates, and others the potential benefits of giving communities a more prominent conservation role, Peters offers readers fascinating backstories of positive forest interactions. He provides examples such as the Kenyah Dayak people of Indonesia, who manage subsistence orchards and are perhaps the world’s most gifted foresters, and communities in Mexico that sustainably harvest agave for mescal and demonstrate a near‑heroic commitment to good practices. No forest is pristine, and Peters’s work shows that communities have been doing skillful, subtle forest management throughout the tropics for several hundred years.

Charles M. Peters is Kate E. Tode Curator of Botany at the New York Botanical Garden and professor of tropical ecology (adjunct) at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

"Engaging and memorable. . . . Throughout his rollicking tales, Peters expressly highlights rural people collecting, analyzing, and applying sophisticated forest inventory and growth data—producing homegrown scientific information to sustainably manage their resources."—J. Leighton Reid, Science

"A very personal and fascinating account of the author’s research on a wide diversity of tropical forest crops from around the tropics. This is a major contribution to the promotion of the sustainable use of tropical ecosystems and their resources."—Ghillean T. Prance FRS, Former Director Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

"A brilliant distillation, full of perceptive insights by a master observer, about the ways that local people in the tropics manage the forests in which they live."—Sir Peter Crane, Oak Spring Garden Foundation, author of Ginkgo: The Tree That Time Forgot

“Peters strikes a perfect balance between memoir of a tropical forester, description of unique research methods, and discussion of social dimensions—leavened at just the right moments with a little whimsy.”—Michael R. Dove, Yale University, author of The Banana Tree at the Gate: A History of Marginal Peoples and Global Markets in Borneo

“This book is a wonderful blend of autobiography, anthropology, tropical forest ecology, and story-telling drawn from a remarkable career of field research with the rugged, resilient people who live in and from tropical forests. It delivers a poignant message that fine-grained, people-friendly, boots-on-the-ground approaches to tropical forest conservation are indispensable.”—Dan Nepstad, President and Executive Director of the Earth Innovation Institute

“This book offers a rare glimpse into the life worlds of a highly mobile forest ecologist who had his own zoom lens trained in two intertwined directions. The stories in this volume thus tell tales not only of tropical environments but of an unusual field ecologist who focused as much—if not more—on the human-environment interactions as on the tropical environments that the humans and forest plants co-produced.”—Nancy Lee Peluso, University of California, Berkeley