On the Bookshelf, Summer 2002

Who Owns the Sky
By Peter Barnes
Island Press, 2001
Reviewed by Kathleen Snow

The “tragedy of the commons” is a sadly familiar term to those working in the conservation arena. In this intriguing book, however, entrepreneur Peter Barnes (cofounder of the telephone company Working Assets), describes how market mechanisms could be used to not only protect common assets, in this case clean air, but also to provide economic dividends for all citizens by using a publicly held trust. Meant for a general audience, the description of ecological concerns and processes will not be new to most conservation practitioners, but a similar overview of economic, legal, and political ideas may be of interest. The book is conceptual in nature; however, it is the role of the visionary to change our perceptions of “business as usual” and the way things have to be. Barnes performs that role well.

Designing Field Studies for Biodiversity Conservation
By Peter Feinsinger
The Nature Conservancy/Island Press, 2001
Reviewed by Kathleen Snow

Scientific inquiry, with its current aura of technology and esoteric language, can seem a daunting prospect not only to the average person but to many field practitioners themselves. Peter Feinsinger provides a practical and thoughtful guide to the basic tools for answering questions about one’s local surroundings, including framing the right questions, choosing strategies for data collection, developing inferences, and the use (and abuse) of statistics. Designed originally to train The Nature Conservancy’s Latin American field workers, local communities, and school teachers, this book has wide applicability for hands-on conservationists in any location. Reaching beyond the basics, it includes discussions of issues of scale in time and space, the choice of indicator or target species, and practical advice on how to involve local communities and visitors in the inquiry process. Feinsinger provides short exercises in each chapter to assist in understanding the concepts presented as well as numerous case examples. His jargon-free descriptions of tools and concepts are supplemented by more detailed information in the appendices that cover making basic statistical calculations. A list of references and tools specifically for Latin American readers is also included. Feinsinger’s clear language, conversational style, and subtle humor make this book a pleasure to read as well as a fine teaching tool.

Behavioral Ecology and Conservation Biology
Edited by Tim Caro
Oxford University Press, 1998
Reviewed by Kathleen Snow

Behavioral ecologists focus their research on an individual’s strategies for survival, whereas conservation biologists are concerned with survival of whole species and habitats. Editor Caro observes that until the last decade there was not much crossover in these disciplines. In this book, he begins to bridge the gap by inviting contributing behavioral ecologists to extend their research conclusions beyond the norm and to look at how animal behavior studies can—and should—be applied to conservation issues. Seventeen contributors present a range of studies with implications for many practical conservation applications from reserve design to captive breeding and reintroduction programs. Individual chapters delve into fairly technical study descriptions, and as with any compilation, the clarity of the writing varies between chapters. Despite the dense and rather daunting-looking text, Caro has done a good job of focusing the contributors on his overall goal: identifying conservation threats and highlighting the ways conservation biology can benefit from the efforts of behavioral ecology. The summary and recommendation sections of each chapter are good places for practitioners to identify areas of interest and application in their particular field.

Evaluating Effectiveness: A Framework for Assessing the Management of Protected Areas
By Marc Hockings, Sue Stolton, and Nigel Dudley
The World Conservation Union, (IUCN) 2000
Reviewed by Kathleen Snow

While ten percent of the world’s land mass lies in some form of protected area, not all protection is equal. This IUCN publication aims to provide a methodology for assessing the quality of protection afforded such areas. With a broad range of potential audiences from managers to NGOs and national governments—and an equally broad range of potential types of protected areas—the framework developed is necessarily conceptual. The authors address this problem by providing specific examples in the text as well as a selection of case studies in the appendices. The appendices, in fact, will be one of the most valuable parts of the publication for practitioners, providing useful lists of potential indicators, evaluation scoring, and data collection means. The written text is clear, though not lively. This publication should be considered as a working tool for those involved in protected area funding or management.