Resilience Practice: Building Capacity to Absorb Disturbance and Maintain Function. , and . 2012. Island Press, Washington, D.C. 226 pp. $27.50 (paperback). ISBN 978-1-59726-801-1.
This book is a primer on applying current theories of change in dynamic social–ecological systems. It builds on the authors’ similarly concise 2006 introductory book, Resilience Thinking, but differs in its orientation toward management practice. It contains sufficient introductory material that it stands on its own though, and chapters interweave concepts with case studies as readers are guided through the steps of describing systems and then through the processes of assessing and managing their resilience. This body of theory can seem thick and rife with jargon to those approaching it for the first time. Commendably, the authors have put considerable effort into breaking down these barriers and producing a readable book. Resilience theory has had an enormous effect on the study of conservation in recent years, yet its actual adoption in environmental management has been limited. This book is a well-crafted tool for those seeking to bridge that gap.
Field Notes on Science and Nature. , editor. 2011. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. 297 pp. $27.95 (hardcover). ISBN 978-0-674-05757-9.
Notebooks are commonplace field equipment, and the proximate value of their contents is obvious, but how many of us have spent much time thinking about what a field notebook really is? Canfield has, as have the authors of chapters in Field Notes on Science and Nature, who include eminent biologists such as George Schaller and Bernd Heinrich, and legendary birder Ken Kaufman. Each chapter is a detailed reflection on how the author writes and uses field notes and contains beautifully reproduced samples from the authors’ own notebooks. There is immense practical wisdom here, and much of it is remarkably consistent across chapters. The physical quality of this book is high, as it should be to do justice to its content. Reading this book is the next best thing to peeking over the shoulders of some of the world's best field scientists, and it will change how the reader thinks about the substance, medium, and activity of field notes.
A Primer of Conservation Biology. 5th edition. 2012. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA. 363 pp. $74.95 (paperback). ISBN 978-0-87893–623-6.
For conservation educators, this volume likely needs little introduction. Since it was first published in 1995 it has been widely used worldwide in short courses, in courses for nonbiology majors, and as a supplemental textbook. Previous editions have been printed in 16 languages. The new edition is comprehensive, readable, and up to date: one could not imagine a more complete and readable introduction to the topic. Its use of graphics to convey concepts and processes is exceptionally effective. Coverage of the material is remarkable in its breadth and—unsurprisingly—is strongest in the biological realm. In future editions, one might hope to see more substantive treatment of topics such as sustainable development and the field of conservation social science. The Primer is accompanied by a digital instructor's resource library. An e-book edition is available through www.coursesmart.com.
Marine Protected Areas: A Multidisciplinary Approach. , editor. 2011. Cambridge University Press, NY. 372 pp. $125.00 (hardcover). ISBN 978-0-521-76605-0. $59.00 (paperback). ISBN 978-0-521-14108-6.
Multidisciplinarity is becoming scarce in the face of multiple interpretations of the much more fashionable term interdisciplinarity. This overt humility is what makes Claudet's book both refreshing and pragmatic: it underpromises and overdelivers. He has assembled a team of authors from 10 countries to tackle some of the most difficult outstanding questions about marine protected areas. How can one assess effectiveness? What are the implications of marine protected areas for peoples’ livelihoods? Can principles of reserve design and connectivity be scaled up? Claudet does not claim to have all the answers; rather, the intent is to help readers who are working on these questions in their own specific contexts. The chapters are full of practical guidance, illustrations, empirical examples, application examples, and careful attention to limitations and the critical importance of context. I wish there was a terrestrial equivalent to this book.
Wild Hope: On the Front Lines of Conservation Success. 2012. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. 255 pp. $26.00 (hardcover). ISBN 978-0-226-03597-0.
Hope is seemingly a commodity in short supply, especially in conservation. Balmford's aim with this book is to provide an antidote to despair, reminding us that a glass half-empty is still also half-full. Through a systematic sampling of international case studies of conservation successes, he paints detailed portraits that inspire a reader yet do not hide the hard realities of the situations. For example, the poignant description of a rhinoceros poacher cuddling his young son drives home how complicated it is to reconcile biological conservation with human livelihoods and how powerful diverse human motivations are. Although there is no theoretical framework that guides this investigation, the author does an admirable job of extracting insights into why conservation efforts in these cases have been successful. Outcomes are described as necessarily situation dependent, but a common thread of “imaginative pragmatism” runs through all the cases. The ingenuity and determination with which people tackled conservation challenges offers a rare mixture of enlightenment and hope.