MOTHER's column gives MOTHER EARTH NEWs readers a chance to ask our experts about a variety of homesteading problems that are in need of a good answer.
I've been appalled to read, in MOTHER and elsewhere, about the worldwide destruction of tropical rain forests, the resulting loss of half the species on earth and the devastating impact deforestation is likely to have on the climate and ecology of the entire planet. Is there anything that I, on individual, can do?
The problems facing the world's tropical forest are formidable but solvable. The destruction can be stopped—and ultimately reversed—with the help of concerned people like yourself.
*Communicate your views on saving tropical forests to the agencies and development banks that provide loans to tropical countries. Write to: President, The World Bank, Washington, DC3; Administrator, U.S. Agency of International Development, Washington, DC; and President, Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, DC.
*Look for other people and organizations in your community that may already be involved in saving tropical forests, and join in their work. Share your knowledge of the importance of tropical forests with others: Schedule programs, workshops and meetings on forest conservation at your school, club, church, library, office, aquarium, zoo.
*Find out if universities and colleges in your area conduct research on tropical forest, new grains and plants, agriculture or medicines. Do they depend on tropical plants for their research? Enlist their help in presenting community programs.
*If you've traveled t a tropical country, write to its officials to tell them that, as a tourist, you're interested in preservation of their rain forests.
*Be an informed consumer. If you're shopping for teak or mahogany furniture, try to make sure that the wood is harvested from managed forests or plantations, not from virgin tropical forests. As your dealers where they get tropical plants and wildlife. Though the process may be complicated, ask merchants to prove that their products come from resources that do not deplete tropical forests.
The World Resources Institute has a color brochure, "Keep Tropical Forests Alive," which details the value of tropical forests, the severity of their destruction and what you can do to help. For a single free copy, write to: Tropical Forest Project, World Resources Institute, Washington, DC.
— Peter Hazlewood,
Peter Hazlewood is a forester and Assistant Director of the Tropical Forests Project of the WRI, a policy research center.
I enjoy the "Cream of the Country" series, since I too am thinking about making a move to the more rural environment. What's the best way to go about investigating some of the areas I have in mind?
Your most important sources of information are local Chambers of Commerce. However, when you contact them, let them know you are thinking about moving there — not just visiting. Ask for statistics about population, income, climate, businesses, churches, taxes, education and so forth. Also ask for a list of realtors, and get in touch with several of these for current real estate listings. Subscribe to, or get a number of copies of, the local newspapers to shed further light on crime, jobs, real estate, politics and — from ads — the cost of living. Contact the state's tourist office for regional and cultural attractions, job markets and colleges and universities.
Armed with these facts, make a visit to the area before you move. Stop in to chat with realtors. Look at some property in your price range, and ask about any potential water or sewage problems and such things as the cost of digging a well. Visit local libraries and talk to librarians. (Information is their stock in trade.) Enjoy some of the cultural and recreational possibilities of the area. Check out the medial facilities.
Most important, talk to everyone you can — waitresses, store clerks, filing station attendants, children — about their views on the area's schools, jobs, climate, growth potential, etc. Their attitudes toward strangers can tell you as much about a place as their words.
— Sara Pacher, senior editor for MOTHER EARTH NEWS
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