Posts tagged: wildlife

Old biologists never die, they just develop DNA scanners

near Rincon de la Vieja in Guanacaste, Costa Rica; photo by David W. Smith

Ray Beise of Pura Jungla sent me a link to a great interview with Daniel Janzen, the pioneering conservationist who helped create the 300,000-acre Area de Conservación Guanacaste and proved that denuded tropical forests can be brought back from the brink.

In Yale’s Environment 360 magazine, Janzen is interviewed by Caroline Fraser, author of Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution.

Now 71, Janzen is currently working on a hand-held barcorder device designed to quickly identify the world’s organisms (viruses, invertebrates, plants, animals, and birds) by their DNA. This iPhone-type scanner could, says one biologist, “do for biodiversity what the printing press did for literacy.”

Janzen has been one of my heroes since I read Green Phoenix: Restoring the Tropical Forests of Guanacaste, Costa Rica by William Allen. It’s a book about conservation that reads like a murder mystery, or rather a coming-into-being mystery, describing the hard-won rebirth of tapped-out pastureland and razed forests. It seems to be out of print (with an old copy going for $50 on Amazon), but you can probably get it at the library. You can also read large chunks of Green Phoenix on Google Books.