Noted with Interest
Transfrontier Conservation Areas: People Living on the Edge. Andersson, J. A., M. de Garine-Wichatitsky, D. H. M. Cumming, V. Dzingirai, and K. E. Giller, editors. 2013. Routledge, London, U.K. 216 pp. $99.95 (hardcover). ISBN 978-1-84971-208-8.
The livelihoods of people “living on the edge” of protected wildlife areas, also known as transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs), in southern Africa have been affected by widespread marginalization and displacement. Ambiguity of TFCA boundary types and diverse peoples present a unique challenge for managers. Socioeconomic and political aspects are important, but ecological factors are what predominantly drive the movements of wild and domestic animals across TFCA boundaries, often creating conflict. Those who are interested in nature conservation initiatives and ecotourism development may find the historical review, methods, and implications in this book useful for improving the quality of life for people living on the edge.
The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds. Crossley, R. 2012. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. 529 pp. $35.00 (paperback). ISBN 978-0691147789.
The Crossley ID Guide combines the best features of photographs and illustrated plates and eliminates many of the problems of each medium. Crossley's plates feature multiple photographs of each species that depict different plumages, postures, and behaviors at close and distant ranges and that are set in a background that illustrates the species’ habitat use. The writing is accessible and informative, and the thumbnail images depicting relative size are particularly useful. The book is large, but would make an excellent home reference for new birders or a supplemental guide for experienced birders who want to improve their ability to identify birds that do not look exactly like those in most illustrations (i.e., it shows birds in nonbreeding plumage, at a distance, and with backlighting). That is to say, the birds pictured in the guide are shown as one really sees them in the field.
Community Forestry: Local Values, Conflict and Forest Governance. Bullock, R. C. L., and K. S. Hanna. 2012. Cambridge University Press, New York. 186 pp. $55 (paperback). ISBN 13:9780521137584.
Community forestry is a concept that has been around, to a limited extent, for centuries. Bullock and Hanna's book describes the evolution of community forestry, its role in conflict mitigation, and the implementation challenges it faces in North America and Scandinavia. The book also describes the institutional and administrative environment within which community forestry is established. Although there are success stories, there are also examples of Canadian communities that started the process of establishing a community forest but two decades later have still not seen the dream fulfilled. These examples are a sobering reminder that establishing a community forest is a labor-intensive endeavor that may not yield results. This text provides background information on community forestry as governance and examines the role local values and conflict play in community-forestry establishment in the West.
Biodiversity in Agriculture: Domestication, Evolution, and Sustainability. Gepts, P., T. R. Famula, R. L. Bettinger, S. B. Brush, A. B. Damania, P. E. McGuire, and C. O. Qualset, editors. 2012. Cambridge University Press, New York. 606 pp. $70.00 (paperback). ISBN 978-0-521-17087-1.
Agriculture—the domestication of plants and animals—is arguably the most important development in human history, yet profound questions about its origins remain. This volume, derived from a 2008 symposium, sets itself the ambitious task of offering some answers. The broad content is sequenced. The opening chapter by Jared Diamond sets the stage and is followed by 26 chapters organized into sections on early steps in domestication, domestication of animals and its effects on humans (physiological and evolutionary), plant domestication, traditional management of biological diversity, and current and future uses of biological diversity. A pleasant surprise was the remarkably thorough coverage of indigenous agriculture and biological diversity stewardship throughout the volume. Conventional dichotomies, such as those dividing hunter-gatherers from agriculturalists or agricultural ecosystems from so-called natural systems, are questioned and often even done away with in this rich, wide-ranging, and thought-provoking book.