The last traces of Australia's tropical rainforest, where the southeasterly winds bring rain to the coastal mountains, contain a unique assemblage of plants and animals, some primitive, many that are found nowhere else on earth. And fifteen years ago, they also contained Bill Laurance, a budding ecologist seduced by the nature of the landscape in north Queensland. Laurance isn't your typical scientist: he wears cut-offs instead of white coats, enjoys the occasional food fight, and isn't afraid to speak his mind, even if it gets him into trouble, as it often did in the Australian rainforest and as he recounts in his marvelous Queensland journal "Stinging Trees and Wait-a-Whiles."The book is his record of the time he spent in this remote area and his run-ins with plant, animal, and human species alike. Laurance lived in a tiny town of loggers and farmers, and he witnessed firsthand the impact of conservation issues on individual lives. He found himself at the center of a bitter battle over conservation strategies and became not only the subject of small-town gossip but also the object of many residents' hatred. Keeping ahead of his high-spirited young volunteers, hounded by the drug-sniffing local policeman, and all the while trying to further his own research amid natural and unnatural obstacles, Laurance offers us a personal and hilarious account of fieldwork and life in the Australian outpost of Millaa Millaa. "Stinging Trees and Wait-a-Whiles" is a biology lesson, a conservation primer, and an utterly energetic story about an impressionable young man who wound up at the epicenter of an issue that tore a small town apart.
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(235mm x 160mm x 21mm)
University of Chicago Press
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
A simple black and white map pinpoints the exact location of Millaa Millaa, a tiny township situated in the locality of Cairns and the rural towns of the Atherton Tableland, which holds the last remnants of Australian rainforest in tropical Queensland, in its grasp. An excited and energetic young man by the name of William Laurance is gathering information from this rich and diverse landscape, which embraces a great variety of plants and creatures, from great white-tailed rats to green ringed-tail possums whose eyes glow in bright light. Some of this ecology is primitive, and much of it is found nowhere else on Earth. This perspective and often humorous book reveals how Laurance, an unconventional scientist, whilst accumlating evidence of the human impact on tropical ecosystems, (at present rates, land the equivalent of 70 football fields are destroyed every 60 seconds), lived amongst farmers and loggers, witnessing first-hand how the reality of conversation issues affected individuals and their daily lives. Laurance offers lessons in history, biology, the intricacy of field work relationships and a violent and bitter conversation battle against World Heritage, which shocked and split apart an increasingly judgmental town. Interspersed with incredible pictures that depict the vast range and complexity of this beautiful but fragmented and endangered rainforest, his book paints a very important picture. Allowing us a valuable insight not only into the ccomplexity of the tropical rainforests and the indigenous life within them but also the incredibly real and devastating issues that threaten their very existence. Surprisingly, we still have time to join the fight to save this irreplaceable enviroment - although the clock is ticking and time is quickly running out. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - William F. Laurance
William Laurance is a senior research scientist with the Smithsonian Institution and Brazil's National Institute for Amazonian Research. The recipient of the American Society of Mammalogists Award for his work on tropical forest fragmentation, he is the lead editor of "Tropical Forest Remnants."