I was pleased to read the opinion-page column "Saving Rain Forests," July 31. The author is right to say that creating pockets of protected areas amid a sea of human poverty will not, in the long run, save the rain forests. Conservation cannot be separated from its social, economic, and political contexts.I am surprised, however, by the author's contention that US conservation groups have not yet learned this lesson. It is, in fact, the guiding philosophy behind World Wildlife Fund's Wildlands and Human Needs Program. By promoting development based on sound environmental management, we work to reconcile ecological concerns with the economic and social needs. In Zambia, for example, WWF has helped establish game management areas that allow villagers to earn a better living while protecting their game from poachers. In the Philippines, we have worked with local fishermen to find ways of fishing that don't damage coral reef ecosystems. WWF will continue to support these and other activities that balance the needs of local people with long-term conservation interests. Barbara Wyckoff-Baird, Washington, World Wildlife Fund
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