The Amazon Rainforest, the lungs of the earth, is going up in flames due in large part to deforestation and negligent policy from Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro. Rainforests are hotspots of biodiversity and are crucial to our planetary health. These ecosystems provide indispensable benefits, from capturing carbon and ensuring food security to contributing to breakthroughs in medicine, farming, engineering, and protecting numerous species.
Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England, the country’s government conservation agency, knows rainforests better than anyone. On the Amazon wildfires, he recently wrote, “Our planet’s largest freshwater system, biggest living carbon store, greatest repository of biological diversity & one of the richest places for cultural diversity is on fire. Difficult to imagine a more stupid policy than to wreck the Amazon rainforest.”
His new book, Rainforest: Dispatches from Earth’s Most Vital Frontlines, has been called “science writing at its best,” by Booklist. In it, Juniper journeys from the barren forests of the Americas to Indonesia, where palm oil plantations have supplanted much of the former rainforest. Along the way, he delivers a comprehensive view of the crucial roles rainforests serve, the state of the world’s rainforests today, how they support civilization, and the inspirational efforts underway to save them.
Juniper explores the temperate zone rainforests, the pressures facing the Congo Basin, and the toll of hunting, forest fragmentation, and invasive species on rainforest wildlife. He also examines how fires, often started by groups like palm oil and pulpwood plantations, can devastate thriving sections of rainforest in hours. Throughout, Juniper demonstrates how rainforests across the world have powerful and concrete impacts that reach as far as America’s Great Plains and Central Europe.