Island Press News


The Scientist reviewed Alan Rabinowitz's new book, writing "Positing the jaguar as sort of a conservation poster cat, Rabinowitz relates the latest research on its dwindling populations and how novel management strategies may help return the animal to its former dominance."



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Washington, DC (September 2, 2014) – From an early age, big cat expert Alan Rabinowitz has been enchanted by the majestic jaguar. Known mostly for its audacity, strength, and wariness, the species has proved to be a survivor. In An Indomitable Beast: The Remarkable Journey of the Jaguar, Rabinowitz shares this animal’s fascinating history, its distinctiveness from other big cats and the complex factors that have enabled it to endure cultural changes, continental divides, and centuries of human development.


Rabinowitz begins the book by describing a powerful boyhood encounter with a jaguar that sparked his lifelong connection to the species and ultimately led him to explore not only the remarkable science of this big cat but also the interactions between humans and jaguars over centuries.


Delving into the deep paleohistory of the jaguar, Rabinowitz recounts powerful stories of the respect and value ancient civilizations like the Maya and Aztec placed on the jaguar for its mystical qualities. That reverence was the origin of what he calls the Jaguar Cultural Corridor, a pathway of cultural beliefs that effectively safeguarded the cat and ensured its survival. But as new cultures settled into this area, spiritual devotion to the jaguar abated, widespread agricultural development eradicated its primary habitat, and more-efficient hunting practices were developed, the jaguar began to face potential extinction.


Nearly two decades after establishing the first jaguar preserve in the Cockscomb Basin of Belize, Rabinowitz returned to fight for the jaguar.  In the early stages of planning what that fight would entail, he had a “light-bulb” moment when he grasped the implications of significant new research about the jaguar’s DNA and how epigenetics could affect the species’ future survival.


Rabinowitz realized that his conservation efforts needed to expand dramatically in order to achieve his goal. In An Indomitable Beast, he details how extensive mapping, jaguar observations, and interviews with local peoples suggested that his effort must include not only protecting land but connecting spaces between populations to ensure genetic diversity. The result was a large-scale conservation strategy unlike any before—the Jaguar Corridor Initiative extending from Mexico to Argentina.


From tracking jaguars through the jungle to navigating disagreements with landholders and meeting with heads of state, Rabinowitz offers engaging stories of his quest to save this magnificent species. He offers a peek inside the world of the jaguar and details the biological, cultural, and political factors shaping its past and future. Although it is known for its power and ferocity, Rabinowitz deems the jaguar a “reluctant warrior” and details how this instinct to flee rather than fight is its strongest weapon when engaging with humans.


An Indomitable Beast is a gripping tale filled with meticulous research, cutting-edge science, and a journey into the world of the jaguar that illuminates how nature and humans can coexist. The book reveals the secrets of “jaguarness” and shows how cutting-edge science coupled with a new conservation paradigm not only ensures the jaguar’s survival but holds the key to humanity’s as well.





Alan Rabinowitz, one of the world’s leading experts on big cats, is CEO of Panthera, a nonprofit organization devoted to saving wild cat species. For almost thirty years Rabinowitz was based at the Wildlife Conservation Society serving in the last few years as executive director of the Science and Exploration Division and Big Cat Programs. The author of six previous books, Rabinowitz has been profiled in numerous publications and featured in television specials and movies.



An excerpt from Alan Rabinowitz's new book, An Indomitable Beast, appeared on Scientific American's website.


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Washington, DC (August 21, 2014) — It’s no longer enough to prevent future damage to our planet: If we want a world rich in biodiversity and resilient to the effects of climate change, we need restoration as well as conservation. But there’s a difference between just planting some trees and creating something that actually functions as a healthy ecosystem, and until now there has been no comprehensive manual to designing and implementing ecological restoration projects that work.


In their new book, Project Planning and Management for Ecological Restoration, restoration experts John Rieger, John Stanley, and Ray Traynor fill that gap, drawing on their decades of experience practicing restoration, conducting research, and developing and refining new techniques and methods. They know that restorationists need to understand not just how ecosystems work, but also how human systems work in order to navigate the constraints of politics, economics, and human nature.


In the book, the authors describe a process for planning and managing an ecological restoration project using a simple, four-faceted approach: planning, design, implementation, and aftercare. Throughout, the authors show how to incorporate principles of landscape ecology, hydrology, soil science, wildlife biology, genetics, and other scientific disciplines into project design and implementation. Illustrations, checklists, and tables are included to help practitioners recognize and avoid potential problems that may arise.


Project Planning and Management for Ecological Restoration provides a straightforward framework for developing and carrying out an ecological restoration project that has the highest potential for success. Professional and volunteer practitioners, land managers, and property owners can apply these guidelines to the wide variety of conditions and locations where restoration is needed. Long overdue, this book will inform and advance the effective practice of this rapidly expanding field.



John Rieger is a practicing restoration ecologist, and cofounder and first president of the Society for Ecological Restoration. John Stanley is a practicing restoration ecologist consultant and cofounder of the Society for Ecological Restoration. Ray Traynor is a member of the executive team of the San Diego Association of Governments and registered landscape architect in the state of California.



CityLab asks what underwater canyons can teach us and explores Timothy Beatley's idea of "blue urbanism."



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Washington, DC (August 19, 2014) — Developed to inform the 2013 National Climate Assessment, a landmark study in terms of its breadth and depth of coverage, and conducted under the auspices of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, Climate Change in the Midwest examines the known effects and relationships of climate change variables on the eight states that make up the region.


With the Great Lakes Basin, the largest supply of fresh water in the world lying within the Midwest region, Climate Change in the Midwest evaluates the effects of latitude, continental location, and large scale circulation patterns on the surrounding climate and the Great Lakes themselves. This state of the art assessment comes from a broad range of experts in academia, private industry, state and local governments, NGOs, professional societies, and impacted communities. Key findings from the assessment show,

  • •    Changes in Great Lakes water levels will create vulnerabilities for coastal ecosystems, infrastructure, and communities,
  • •    The capacity of many species to adapt will become limited by on-going land conversion and fragmentation of habitats,
  • •    High risk of levee failure during a major riverine flood will become a significant regional hazard, and
  • •    Variability in growing season precipitation will impact future crop yields, and extreme heat will influence Midwestern meat, milk, and egg production.


Climate Change in the Midwest offers decision makers and stakeholders a way to design and implement effective adaptation strategies to reduce the region’s vulnerability and create a substantial basis from which to make informed choices that will affect the well-being of the region’s inhabitants in the decades to come.



Julie Winkler is a professor of Geography at Michigan State University. Jeffrey A. Anderson is a professor of Geography at Michigan State University. Jerry L. Hatfield, National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, USA-ARS. David Bidwell is a professor of Environment and Life Science at the University of Rhode Island. Daniel Brown is an SNRE associate dean for research.


ABOUT THE SERIES: Developed to inform the 2013 National Climate Assessment, these reports highlight past climate trends, projected climate change and vulnerabilities, and impacts to specific regions and sectors. The critical information in each comes from a broad range of experts in academia, private industry, state and local governments, NGOs, professional societies, and impacted communities. The reports include case studies on topics such as adaptive capacity; climate change effects on regional economies and ecosystem services; urbanization, transportation, and infrastructure vulnerabilities; and agriculture sustainability.



Alan Rabinowitz stopped by NPR's Diane Rehm Show to talk about jaguars, how they've survived through the centuries, and the protection they need to keep doing so.



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Alan Rabinowitz talked about his lifetime of working to protect big cats with New Hampshire Public Radio's "The Exchange."



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Washington, DC (August 1, 2014) — Most people like trees. But few truly know their importance to a functioning, resilient ecosystem—and the hard truth that deforestation is among the most devastating processes humans have used to transform the earth. In Forests in Our Changing World: New Principles for Conservation and Management forest ecologists Joe Landsberg and Richard Waring, explain how forests can be sustainably managed.


Forests in Our Changing World offers a thorough introduction to every aspect of forests and explores how this critical resource will be affected by a warming climate. Landsberg and Waring argue that the key to forest management is to educate the public on crucial functions of forests like biodiversity, carbon sequestration, stable water supplies, and land protection.


Forests in Our Changing World highlights key aspects of forest conservation including,
•    An in-depth view of natural forest regeneration,
•    Why deforestation results in land erosion and environmental damage,
•    Forest types around the world and their individual impact on the Earth,
•    How environmental destruction and deforestation has been a common thread in the collapse of numerous human societies,
•    The extinction crisis looming in forests, and
•    Why natural capital provided by forests should be included in economic calculations like budgets and estimates of the gross domestic product.


Landsberg and Waring detail the critical information forest managers and policy makers need in order to use forests sensibly, without destroying them. The world is losing forests at a depressing rate, but Forests in Our Changing World shows a better way forward. At the heart of the book is the realization that we are all both consumers and beneficiaries of this natural resource—and we can no longer continue to treat forests as expendable.



Joe Landsberg is a forest scientist, consultant, and past chief of the CSIRO Division of Forest Research in Australia. Richard Waring is emeritus Distinguished Professor of Forest Science at Oregon State University in Corvallis.



In an excerpt of The Carnivore Way available on the Utne Reader website, Cristina Eisenberg explains why carnivores need room to roam.




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