Your summer reading list: nature edition

© William Crosse

As the lazy days of summer rapidly approach, Conservation International staff are spending their free time with their favorite books. In their own words, here’s what they say about the books they can’t put down.

1. “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens

“Where the Crawdads Sing is not a nature book directly, but the descriptions of the North Carolina marshlands are marvelous. The main character’s passion and love for studying and learning about different bird and marsh species is inspirational. The author’s knowledge of the area, as well as the range of species that she describes in vivid detail is impressive and makes this book a worthwhile read.”

– Jenny Hewson, senior director for habitat monitoring and climate mitigation

2. “Love, Life and Elephants: An African Love Story” by Daphne Sheldrick

“This is the story of how the author met her husband and how they founded the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust together. The book describes how she and her husband learned to rear orphaned baby elephants. It’s wonderful and life-affirming, and best of all, it’s about baby elephants.”

– Salma Bahramy, media relations director

3. “Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice” by Mark Plotkin

“Centered mainly in southern Suriname, this book details the travels of Mark Plotkin, a Harvard ethno-botanist, as he embarks on a quest deep in the Amazonia rainforest to document curative medicinal plants and how indigenous peoples use and rely on them. In the book, Plotkin emphasizes not only the impending threat to and rapid decline of rainforests, but also of indigenous peoples, their culture and identity. Dr. Plotkin is founder and head of Amazon Conservation Team, and Kamanja Panashekung became the central character of Conservation International’s Virtual Reality film experience ‘Under the Canopy.’ ”

– John Martin, director of visual storytelling production

4. The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan

“Poor soil and agriculture management caused drought, tornadoes and a Dust Bowl 100 millionacres wide (the size of Pennsylvania). This total collapse of the natural world happened in the 1930s in the Great Plains and multiplied the effect of the Great Depression. What’s interesting is the parallel in the history covered in this book to discussions happening in the U.S. today. Consider the Green New Deal; it’s actually modeled after President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s response to the Great Depression. One of the first programs he enacted was the Civilian Conservation Corps, which was aimed at repairing environmental damage from the Dust Bowl. How? By planting more than 3 billion trees.”

– Trisha Calvarese, senior writer

Olivia DeSmit is a staff writer for Conservation International.

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