Re: The 6' th Extinction

To: "Niels Poul Dreyer" <>
Subject: Re: The 6' th Extinction
From: "Rohan H. Wickramasinghe" <>
Date: Sun, 08 Jun 1997 00:50:58 SLT
On Sat, 7 Jun 1997 21:08:03 +1000 (EST), "Niels Poul Dreyer" 
<> wrote:
> In reply to Keith response.
> Of course I try to make a contribution to conservation through my support of
> Birldlife and others. Additionally I have written letters to authorities
> about protecting important birding areas I have visited. However I am not
> naive and perhaps cynical. The statistics talk:
> Yearly Global Deforestation Rates of rainforest from:
> 1970-1980 was 70.000 km2 per year
> 1980-1990 was 120,000 km2 per year
> 1990-1997 was 175.000 km2 per year
> Source: World Bank Annual reports
> As the figures show we are witnessing more than 50 percent increase in the
> deforestation rate per year for each new decade. The main reason is
> commercial predation logging by 12 major (mainly asian) companies. After the
> fall of communism new hunting areas for unscrupulous logging interests in
> former socialist countries  are Russia, Suriname, Laos, Bolivia, Cameroon,
> Burma, Cambodia.  PNG has been evaded by one Malaysian operator under
> different names which has acquired access through bribes to almost half of
> the lowland forests in that country for almost nothing.  We are not talking
> about linear environmental destruction but exponential growth in depletion
> of the most diverse ecosystem in the world. I arrived at my  prediction of
> mega extinction of birds in 15-20 years time from extrapolating destruction
> rates in an exponential function model. There are about 4-6 mio km2 forest
> left in the tropics. Consequently it will only take 20 years to destroy all
> remaining lowland forests in the world. Given the exponential growth in
> corruption and greed it is more than likely to happen on schedule. The
> predictions made by the Club of the Rome in the book "Limits to Growth" are
> spot on.  David Suzuki & Paul Erlich believe we have reached a point of no
> return. I have not met one single profesional conservationist who are
> optimistic about the fate of our wildlife.
>  It is of couse very unfortunate to make a such gloomy forcast, but our
> leaders especially in the third world have a personal vested interest in
> supporting unsustainable depletion of resources. Mobuto, Marcos, Suharto,
> Julius Chan are good examples of such leaders. Additionally, our economic
> system also favours extinction of species. It is however beyond the scope of
> AUs birding to go into more detail about economics. This is after all a bird
> chat affair. Fellow birders, do not wait too long if you want to see those
> birds! Ben King, Andrew Whittaker, Robert Ridgley, Field Guides, Bird Quest
> and may others agree with me. If you are interested I can give references to
> some very interesting articles and books to read. I strongly recommend
> reading Richard Leakey's book THE SEXTH EXTINCTION.
> Regards from Niels Dreyer
> >
> >Of course you are correct to be concerned about developments and the
> >threats to special places like Taman Negara, but there is still time to
> >try to and save some parts of the world. Taman Negara is for example
> >still a National Park - this does not make it entirely protected, but
> >it is a start. If the Malaysian government can be persuaded to
> >eventually invest the tourist dollar in environmental protection then
> >that would be a good thing. I'm not sure running around "seeing the
> >world" does very much to address these problems, and may even be
> >contributing to them!! The more tourists that visit places.. the more
> >facilities will be provided for them (and that includes you!) But I
> >hope this does not sound like a flame - all I suggest is a more
> >positive outlook... 
> >
> >> 

There are substantial numbers of people in Sri Lanka at all levels
of society who are dismayed at the dwindling natural forest cover
in the country but I am hoping we won't get side-tracked at this
moment into deforestation and other forms of environmental
degradation caused by any or all types of what is styled as
"development". My interest when this thread started was to find out
what problems were specifically caused by golf courses. From the
top of my head, Sri Lanka probably has only two or three golf
courses (I think one may not be in use just now) and perhaps
another one or two proposed. Though these figures may be out, it
won't be by much (give or take one or two) and we are unlikely to
see a big demand for golf courses in the immediate future. ( A
more immediate problem is the on-going widespread fragmentation
of coconut estates and "alienation" of " undeveloped " land for
urban expansion. Another is the proposed siting of a large oil
refinery next to a bird sanctuary.)

Anyhow, it has been most interesting to have a chance to learn the
different experiences in different countries and the different
levels of golf course design and operation with environmental
concern in mind.


Rohan H. Wickramasinghe,
Institute for Tropical Environmental Studies,
41 Flower Road,
Colombo 7,
Sri Lanka

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