Politics of saving the world

A Primer of Conservation Biology
November 30, 2001

Richard Primack makes an ambitious but successful attempt to introduce the multiple elements that make up the emerging discipline of conservation biology. The book is aimed primarily at students new to the field and provides a brief but comprehensive overview of the concepts and issues.

Although only some 300 pages, this text, now in its second edition, includes an interesting range of figures and illustrations. Each chapter ends with a useful summary and list of suggested reading. These are supplemented by a full bibliography and a list of international environmental organisations.

Primack covers in depth the ecological aspects of conservation of species at population and community levels from the perspective of designing protected and managed areas. He also includes interesting sections on legislative aspects of conservation - including the role of international agreements such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

The final chapter, on conservation and sustainable development, is one of the most interesting I have seen in a student text. Focusing on political aspects of conservation, it includes a substantial discussion of conservation issues relating to traditional cultures.

The text concludes with Primack's vision of what conservation biologists should be: not just educators and motivators, but also practitioners, organisers and political activists. This is a really refreshing text.

Cath Cotton was formerly lecturer in ethnobiology, University of Surrey, Roehampton.

A Primer of Conservation Biology

Author - Richard B. Primack
ISBN - 0 87893 732 3
Publisher - Sinauer Associates
Price - £25.99
Pages - 319

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