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Biodiversity Research Institute Hosts Dr. Thomas Lovejoy Nov. 14

Dr. Thomas E. Lovejoy
Photo courtesy of Thomas Lovejoy
Dr. Thomas E. Lovejoy
Posted Nov. 08, 2012, at 1:20 p.m.

The Amazon in Portland? In November?

On Wednesday, November 14, Biodiversity Research Institute will host Dr. Thomas E. Lovejoy, world-renowned conservation biologist and author, for a public lecture and panel discussion at the University of Southern Maine’s Hannaford Hall in Portland. The program will begin at 6:00 PM.

Lovejoy’s presentation will be on “The Land of Cinnamon and Gold: The Amazon over the Five Centuries since de Orellana’s Expedition.”

Lovejoy is one of those rare scientists who skillfully bridge the gap that exists sometimes between the science community and the public at-large. If you know about the plight of tropical rainforests around the world, then it’s likely due to Lovejoy’s efforts. If anyone can connect Portland to the Amazon Basin, it’s Dr. Lovejoy.

The Amazon Basin – why should Portland care?

Beyond a curiosity about one of the wonders of the world, how is a remote, immense wilderness such as the Amazon Basin relevant to Maine?

Consider:

Economic benefit: Rubber, petroleum, cattle, soybean, cinnamon, pineapple, chocolate, coffee, vanilla, timber, pharmaceuticals, gold, even electronics and freshwater aquarium fish: just a few of the products from the Amazon Basin. The World Wildlife Fund estimates the economic value of timber and non-timber products combined from the region between $540 and $715 per hectare per year. Since the Amazon Basin represents about 650 million hectares, that’s a lot of money for world markets!

The benefit of ecosystem services: Climate control, water flow regulation, nutrient recycling, and pollination: just a few of the services offered freely by the Amazon Basis system. Purple martins fly more than 6,000 kilometers between North and South America in just two weeks to overwinter in Amazonia before returning to Maine to breed. As insectivores, these birds control flying insect pests.

Aesthetic benefit: Scientific research, ecotourism, heritage, spirituality, and sense of place: just a few of the awe-inspiring ways that we benefit from the Amazon Basin.

Ethics: Forest destruction in the Amazon Basin from 1995 to 2000 averaged almost two million hectares per year, equivalent to seven football fields a minute. Distinguished scientists estimate scores of life forms driven into extinction each year then and now.

The Amazon Basin is diminishing, but Lovejoy is coming to Maine with a message of hope. On Wednesday, November 14, we will have the privilege of learning from one of the world’s experts about a part of the world that has filled the chronicles and stocked the shelves of our marketplaces. Please join us to learn about “The Land of Cinnamon and Gold.”

To learn more, visit www.briloon.org/spotlight

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