Local knowledge the key to global solutions in new book 

CDU Vice-Chancellor Professor Helen Garnett, Professor Barry Brook and Associate Professor Navjot Sodhi at the launch of South East Asian Biodiversity in Crisis

The co-authors of a new book about the threats to animal and plant species in Southeast Asia are hoping the text can be translated and distributed free to local people as a conservation tool.

Charles Darwin University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Helen Garnett launched the book, Southeast Asian Biodiversity in Crisis during the Symposium on Friday.

She described the research partnership between co-authors Professor Barry Brook from Charles Darwin University and Associate Professor Navjot Sodhi from the National University of Singapore as “marriage made in heaven”.

“This resource carries a pervasive message that ties in strongly to the motivation of CDU's work on sustainable livelihoods,” Professor Garnett said.

Published by Cambridge University Press, Southeast Asian Biodiversity in Crisis highlights the vulnerability of endemic species in the region due to the loss of tropical rainforests and other environmental factors.

It looks at the human impact on the region and raises alarm about the dramatic decline in animal and plant species.

“Working together, we realized most of the information was disparate and the issues were not very well known in the community. The level of this crisis has been underestimated, even by academics,” Professor Brook said at the launch.

Professor Brook was recently awarded the Fenner Medal for outstanding research in biology at the Science at the Shine Dome event in Canberra.

Associate Professor Navjot Sodhi, an internationally-recognised authority on tropical ecology and bird biology, spoke about the biodiversity crisis during the Symposium.

He said that without broad-scale recognition of the crisis and effective conservation involving local people, millions of species face potential extinction within this century.

The authors said while the resource is currently academically-priced, they are hoping to secure funding to publish the text in Thai and Bahasa languages so it can be distributed free to non-government organisations and local people to raise awareness about the crisis.