Synopses & Reviews
This book draws a picture of the palm communities in the main forest ecosystems of Amazonia, taking into account their geographical variability. In particular, the major trends of adaptive radiation of palms as well as their role in forest functioning are analysed and answers to the following questions are given: - How many palm species are there in Amazonian forest ecosystems? - Is palm species richness equal throughout the basin? - Which are the palm-richest ecosystems? - What about density and life forms, structure of the com- munities, palm productivity, relationship with animals, and with humans? - What is thepalms' economic potential? - How to use the natural populations of palms forforest management? A supplement to the text offers a practical key for the identification of palms with an elementary description of each genusbased on the characteristics of Amazonian species, and the most vernacular names.
Palms are tropical miracles. Heinrich Heine, the German poet, stated "Unter den Palmen wandert man nicht ungestraft", i.e., one does not wander unpunished under the palms. It was Professor H.C.D. de Wit who taught me this in the late 1950s, and it is a pleasure to forward this message to the next generation in such an appropriate book. Both authors, as I know them, will bear the punishment of the palms. They will never be without palm nostalgia if and when living somewhere outside this world's tropical and subtropical palm belt. Palm nostalgia goes further than palms alone. It concerns the landscape, the short but splendid sunsets and last, but not least, the tropical people. Their elegance of living, structured in subtler ways than managers will ever understand, their laughter which may be a more decisive weapon against the troubles besetting the tropics than mere economics, and their unique life force erupting on festive as well as sad occasions under the palms will always remain with those who w3)ldered beneath these trees. I know. I was there.