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For Educators

Building the Next Ark
How NGOs Work to Protect Biodiversity
Michael M. Gunter, Jr.

Dartmouth College Press
2004 • 276 pp. 30 illus. 5 1/2 x 8 3/4"
Ecology & Environmental Studies / International Relations

$22.95 Paperback, 978-1-58465-590-9

“...the book is valuable for its excellent presentation of the transnational and interdependent nature of biodiversity protection, the creative framework for looking at NGOs, and the wealth of information about an underresearched, yet crucially important, topic.”—Choice

A timely study of how NGOs are uniquely positioned to help prevent the greatest environmental crisis of all.

A new ark is needed. With the extinction of perhaps 50,000 species per year, we are at a critical juncture in history. Ominous storm clouds have gathered to threaten humanity’s most basic resource of all, the diversity of life on earth. And the danger facing us—the possibility of losing forever hundreds of thousands of species with whom we share this planet—is magnified by the fact that this rapid decline of global biodiversity is too vast to be handled solely by states or their existing international institutions. Michael Gunter suggests that a fundamentally different route is needed to stem the ongoing extinction crisis. In an eye-opening appraisal of the current threat to global biodiversity, one that truly approaches a deluge of biblical proportions, he concludes that nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are the best and perhaps only actors situated to negotiate the powerful array of political and economic interests involved in species loss as well as species preservation.

Showing how NGOs fit into the landscape of international biodiversity protection and what makes them so effective, Gunter’s innovative work demonstrates that NGOs provide invaluable assistance by fostering fundamental linkages between domestic and international, ecological and economic, and short- and long-term considerations. Such linkages are strategic. They defuse special-interest political agendas and open up avenues for discussing biodiversity issues worldwide. In short, they help build the next ark.

Gunter focuses on the symbiotic relationship between a handful of specific mainstream and participatory strategies employed by a diverse group of well-known environmental NGOs (Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International and Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, to name but a few). Determining which strategies work and which do not, this text offers a detailed prescription for how NGOs can improve their species protection efforts. It looks at how NGOs work within the system. It looks at how NGOs work with people. And it looks at how NGOs must work on themselves. While scholars have previously outlined the essential functions of NGOs, Building the Next Ark is the first to look at how their day-to-day operations translate into truly effective biodiversity protection.

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“Informative and enlightening... A must read for anyone who cares about the environment and seeks a better understanding of what can be done.” —OASis

Building the Next Ark is a valuable resource for anyone working with or in an NGO. However, it may be even more valuable for someone without a political or science or economics background. The book is readable and enjoyable. Just as the NASA photo of Earth seen from space shifted our perspective, this book offers a global perspective of the work of NGOs, shifting our vision of them dramatically. Most importantly, it offered a 'rainbow of hope' that NGOs proved ways to connect, collaborate, and to rise above the petty nation-state politics, promoting participatory democracy and protecting biodiversity in the process.”—North American Association for Environmental Education

“Michael Gunter's Building the Next Ark: How NGOs Work to Protect Biodiversity is a well-presented volume that represents a substantial and timely contribution to the literatures on international organizations, political sociology, and environmental studies. Given the quality of the critical thinking exercise undertaken by Gunter, Building the Next Ark will be useful in may ways to a variety of readers.”—International Studies Review


“Devoid of dogma and propaganda, this book provides an important historical perspective on how US-based NGOs have engaged political leadership in tackling conservation challenges in this country and internationally, and in doing so it also highlights the importance of engaging the U.N. and its processes for success in this regard.” —The Honorable Timothy E. Wirth, President, United Nations Foundation

“This is an important and much needed book on a vital subject. Using thorough, hands-on scholarship, Gunter delineates the role of the NGOs as the spearhead of the global conservation movement. He delivers balanced accounts of their strategies, their relationship to governments and the public, their successes and their vulnerabilities.”—Edward O. Wilson, University Research Professor, Emeritus, Harvard University

MICHAEL M. GUNTER, JR., holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and a graduate certificate in Environmental Systems from the University of Kentucky. He received his bachelor’s degree with honors from Vanderbilt University. A former Eagle Scout, Gunter is currently an Assistant Professor at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.

Wed, 20 Jun 2012 09:54:38 -0500