Synopses & Reviews
Once famous for the beauty of its white beaches, reef-ringed islands, and lush forests, today the Philippines is known as an example of the deep costs of ecological decline. In less than a generation, large and small users alike felled the forests, shattered the coral reefs, and over-fished the oceans. The rapid harvest of the once-abundant resources has brought environmental changes: droughts, deadly flash floods, and the collapse of vital fisheries. The consequences have reverberated throughout the country. As the rural economy weakened, millions migrated to the cities, overwhelming the infrastructure and deepening the problems of urban health. Pioneering efforts have been launched to curtail the environmental damage and manage the resources that remain. Trained as a botanist and plant ecologist, writer Barbara Goldoftas traveled extensively throughout the archipelago to document the loss of the natural resources, the dramatic human costs, and efforts to reverse the decline. Along the forest frontier, she met villagers whose fields had been washed away by mudslides and church workers risking their lives to defend the dwindling forests. In coastal villages, she spoke with fishermen who, having watched their catches diminish with the dying reefs, enforced the boundaries of no-take zones. In towns and villages alike, she interviewed local politicians and leaders of non-governmental organizations working to combine conservation and development and keep their communities intact. Written about a country often described as an environmental worst-case scenario, The Green Tiger offers an unusually close look at the consequences of ecological decline and determined efforts to reverse them. It argues that, rather than destroying a natural resource base, development should integrate conservation and economic growth. It gives a realistic, but optimistic vision of the long process of "nation-building" that is the backdrop of environmental work in a developing country and a new democracy.
"With vivid, first-hand reporting, Barbara Goldoftas tells the story of environmental destruction in the Philippines, the greed and corruption behind such devastation, and the social, economic, and human costs. There are profound lessons for all nations, rich and poor."--Alan Lightman, author of Einstein's Dreams
"Whole sections of the world exist off the radar screens of the West. Thank heavens for serious writers like Barbara Goldoftas, who in this book vastly expands our knowledge of what is really going on across the archipelago of the Philippines. A very timely and useful chronicle indeed."--Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature
"Barbara Goldoftas guides readers through a surreally beautiful landscape populated by forest-defending priests and their assassins, land barons, rebel armies, loggers, eco-tourists, farmers, fishers, and public servants. The Green Tiger provides a blueprint for hope and transformation."--Sandra Steingraber, author of Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment
The Philippines was once famous for the beauty of its reef-ringed islands, white beaches, and lush forests. In less than a half-century, its forests were felled, its oceans over-fished, and its coral reefs destroyed. The rapid harvest of once-abundant resources has brought droughts, deadly flash floods, and the collapse of vital fisheries. As the rural economy weakened and millions migrated to cities, they overwhelmed the urban infrastructure. Today, the Philippines stands as an example of the profound and sweeping consequences of ecological decline. In The Green Tiger, Barbara Goldoftas documents this tragic trajectory. But hers is not a story of hopelessness and inevitable defeat. In lyrical, unflinching prose, she traces the struggle for conservation in the Philippines, from isolated villages to large cities, and in the process illustrates the surprising ways in which conservation and economic growth can effectively co-exist.
About the Author
teaches environmental studies at Wellesley College. A nonfiction writer trained in botany and environmental health, she is the recipient of a National Magazine Award for Public-Interest Journalism. She lives in the Boston area.