Amazon Conservation in the Age of Development: The Limits of Providence

By Ronald A. Foresta | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
Tracing the Landscape of Biological Value

Gary Wetterberg, who was selected to do the actual PRODEPEF field work in Brazil, had much experience in South American conservation and a long exposure to Miller's ideas. He had met Miller in 1968, while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in a Chilean national park, and the careers of the two remained intertwined for years afterward. When Wetterberg returned to the United States to complete a doctorate, Miller served on his dissertation committee. Later, Wetterberg was drawn into the Regional Wildlands Project and developed a set of national environmental codes for Colombia under Miller's direction. During the long association, Wetterberg became imbued with Miller's approach and Miller formed a high opinion of Wetterberg's skills as a conservation planner. 1 Wetterberg joined the PRODEPEF project as a consultant in early 1975, and Miller arranged for him to be stationed at Brazil's National Institute of Amazon Research (INPA) in Manaus. Wetterberg's specific charge was to evaluate the overall needs of Brazilian conservation, with particular emphasis on Amazonia, and produce a detailed set of recommendations on which a concrete conservation program could be based.

When Wetterberg arrived at INPA in May 1975, he understood the significance of his task. A conservation program for Brazilian Amazonia would fill the last great geographical gap in South American nature protection, capping a decade of international conservation work. 2 He also appreciated its uniqueness. Miller had stressed how, ideally, plans for biological conservation should be sketched onto a landscape before human occupation reduced freedom of action, but it was already too late in most areas of the world; conservationists normally had to choose from among a few policy options and among the few natural areas that remained on a settled

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