Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Unique, Endemic and Rare Flora of Sulawesi

The Unique, Endemic and Rare Flora of Sulawesi, edited by Yuzammi and Syamsul Hidayat. Hardcover book with pictorial boards (no dust jacket) published by Center for Plant Conservation, Bogor Botanic Gardens, Institute of Indonesian Sciences in collaboration with Yayasan Sosial Chevron dan Texaco Indonesia 2002, 220 pages with colour photographs and maps as well as black and white maps (some with red dots on them).

The richness of Indonesian biodiversity has been of great interest for a long time. In Indonesian it is commonly known as ‘zamrut khatulistiwa’ (the scattered emeralds along the equatic belt) ranging from Sabang (small island in north Aceh) to Merauke (Papua). In addition, Indonesia is also rich in oceanic flora and fauna. Therefore, it is referred to a Megadiversity Country. Unfortunately, it is changing from a Megadiversity Country to a Hotspot Country. The pride of being a country of the rich of biodiversity has tended to encourage the exploitation and neglect with little to unsustainable use of natural resources. As a result many plants and animals are now endangered in the wild while their value or potential are still unknown. Inventories of Indonesian flora have been conducted sporadically. Nevertheless, these do not equal with the richness of Indonesian Biodiversity nor the rate at with it is decreasing. Etc”

Yep, it is decreasing... not that i'm an expert on the matter, but I do read a bit and that's what i've read... and the telly says so as well... as does the internet... so it must be true. I find the exploitation and neglect that is rampant in this world (all of it, not just Indonesia) more than a little depressing. Big foreign multinational companies are often to blame... you know the ones... the big ones... like oil companies etc. The sort of company where the bottom $ is all that matters and a few plants blocking progress is really of little concern when profits are to be made.

This book has incredibly lush photography of some truly beautiful and amazing plants. Not all of them are threatened, which is a good thing, but there are enough plants here that are marked “Vulnerable”, “Data deficient” and “Near threatened” to cause some concern. I should point out that this book is not really coming from a hard line environmental doomsday scenario. It is more of a guide and appreciation of what Sulawesi has to offer in the Flora department.

I've never been to Sulawesi. But I would love to visit this part of the world for many reasons including the flora and fauna and a book like this makes me realise that the later I leave it the less I will probably see.

Finally, I think it's great that the publishers have included a purpose printed bookmark. It shows an attention to detail... or it could be a blatant form of advertising, just in case you hadn't realised who the warm and fuzzy companies were that had bankrolled the whole thing.

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