The fires in Brazil’s rain forests make this new book of particular interest and importance. If you wonder why the fires are causing such an outcry, such concern, “Rainforest: Dispatches from the Earth’s Most Vital Frontlines” will help you understand.


Author Tony Jupiter is a veteran of the environmental battles being fought for rainforests around the world. He is considered an expert on the subject. He serves as chair of England’s official government conservation agency. He formerly was with BirdLife International.


Rainforests, we are being told in news stories about the fires, are “the lungs of the world.” Jupiter shows us that they are much more.


This habitat, threatened by our destruction of it, contains countless animal and plant species. Each is a vital part of its ecosystem and the world at large, Jupiter explains. None are expendable. Many are unknown, holding potential that we will not discover if we let the forests disappear.


The forests in Brazil are being cleared for farming. Jupiter writes about the broad impact intact rainforests has on farming far from the forests themselves. Rainforests get rain; they also provide water for rain in distant places.


Jupiter points to the importance these forests provide for capturing from the air and storing the carbon that is fueling changing climate. We are in an era of consequences, he writes.


The United States has its own important rainforests. Although not often thought of in this way, the redwood forests of northern California and the costal conifers of the Olympic peninsula in Washington are important rainforests, according to Jupiter. 


Of particular interest to me, habituated as I am to chocolate, was Jupiter’s discussion of cocoa production problems in Ivory Coast. This is a rainforest issue, too, cocoa providing income for the people living there. Rainforests work in many ways locally and globally, reaching far beyond their boundaries. 


If the current news stories, photos, and video are disheartening, Jupiter tells us why there is reason for optimism about rainforest preservation, and how that can be accomplished.


“Rainforest” is soft-cover, 6x9, 448 pages, indexed, illustrated with black-and-white and color photos, $22, to be released on Sept. 19 by Island Press.


Island Press, incidentally, since its founding in 1984 has focused on environmental issues. It has more than 1,000 titles in print. It states its emphasis as transforming objective information into understanding and action. See island