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Why Save a Forest Half a World Away?

By Charles Convis, Esri Conservation Program Coordinator

What if all the biological diversity that makes up Langoue's 600,000 acres just went away? Do we know how that would affect us? Do we want to find out?

As we travel the globe, it becomes clear how broken many of our global and local natural systems are. When you see it for yourself, you realize how there are no places on earth left undamaged. You begin to lose patience with the short-sightedness and outright greed that seems to govern too many resource decisions. And you want to change some of those decisions before the chance to decide is lost. You want to do more, but from the best science.

Areas such as the Langoue are wilderness treasures full of astonishing varieties of life. Many of us live an urbanized existence and rarely think of such matters. Some people don't care about gorillas or elephants or the countless species of invertebrates and plants that make up the Langoue ecosystem. That cynicism aside, the truth is that several tropical forest species become extinct every day. And extinction is no laughing matter.

Numerous studies have issued warnings that global warming and species destruction are real, proven, and grave concerns. And it has been shown that protecting tropical forests is the most effective tool to combat global warming and protect biological diversity.

We are truly stewards of our earth, and we have reached a time in history when we need to protect and defend the last wild places. We can no longer be blasé or think it's the other guy's problem.

To Create a National Park

Some 10,000 of you were privileged to hear Michael Fay speak at the 21st Annual Esri International User Conference and to understand firsthand his humility and dedication. Mike knows how to get real projects done, to respect and honor local communities, to give credit where it's due, to leverage logging rights into locally based protection, and to build conservation institutions that are real, effective, and permanent. In hours of conversations with him, we've been privileged to learn the true depth of his commitment and the extent of his selfless generosity.

He is dedicated to making the Langoue National Park a reality.

Why Should You Care?

Prior to Rachel Carson's 1962 book Silent Spring, the industrialization of the world--with its concomitant advancements in agriculture techniques--knew no bounds. The industrialized nations still had an empire-building mind-set, and the up-and-coming nations were dead set on becoming economically viable at all costs. Both these points of view dictated that industrial and agricultural progress were good--never mind the consequences!

But Carson cast a light on the severity of the problem and touched off an environmental awareness that continues to be an important part of our lives. This awareness helps us in many ways, but the most important thing it has done is to show how fragile our earth really is and how self-destructive many resource decisions can be.

By choosing to help bring the Langoue National Park into existence, we have the opportunity to do something right for humanity's future and to act beyond our self interest. We have a chance to do something that is obviously, verifiably, and completely good.

For more information about global warming, visit the EPA's or to learn more about deforestation.

For more information, visit

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October 9, 2001