Adrian Forsyth, Blue Moon Fund

TITLE: Vice President of Programs

FUNDING AREAS: Conservation

CONTACT:, 434-295-5160

IP TAKE: A lifelong scholar of the world's forests, Forsyth takes an avid interest in all programs that help to conserve forest areas. But his preference goes to those that work holistically to conserve trees, change behaviors, and protect waterways and other interconnected ecosystems as well.

PROFILE: Adrian Forsyth has had "a special place in his heart" for the world's forests since his childhood in the heavily wooded Vancouver area, he once told PBS's Bill Moyers in an on-air interview. This passion has been a guiding force throughout Forsyth's career, during which he has extensively traveled and publicized the rain forests of Canada, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Peru. Additionally, he has authored or coauthored 13 books pertaining to forests, their wildlife, and how we can protect them. Today, as one of the Blue Moon Fund's two vice presidents of programs since 2006 (the other being Ji-Qiang Zhang) he plays an influential hand in the allocation of grants toward initiatives for sustainable human development across the globe.

Forsyth supports commercial activity that makes sustainable use of forests and forest resources. This includes some activities that many fellow conservationists disavow, such as tree plantations. Forsyth told Moyers that expanded use of tree plantations would be a highly effective way to satisfy world demand for wood fiber without laying waste to forests.

"I think we have to look at fiber as something that we can farm and get away from the idea that we can mine these old forests and live off the accumulated capital of thousands of years of history before us," Forsyth said, adding that recycling and resource-conservation measures would not in themselves be enough given the size of projected growth in consumer demand.

Forsyth is a scientist of animal and plant life by training, having completed a doctorate in tropical ecology at Harvard. And this scientific understanding is integral to his advocacy for the world's forests. He's argued that animal species are not going to truly benefit from forest-conservation initiatives unless the forest reserves are as large as possible.

"You've really got to have a lot of area for animals to persist and be viable. And as soon as you get small numbers, like California condors, they had to nurture those things along with extremely expensive captive breeding, and we just can't do that for thousands of species. We've got to have some big reservoirs," he said.

Forsyth's personal studies and writings have spanned a vast range of species and environs. He's covered the frosty pine regions of his native Canada in books such as Mammals of the American Wild (Camden, 2002) and the tropical jungles of South America in Tropical Nature (Touchstone, 1987), which he coauthored with Ken Miyata. He appears to be partial to the tropics, though, as they and their fauna have been the subjects of five of his 13 books.

Forsyth's affinities for sustainable development and rain-forest conservation are well reflected in the Blue Moon Fund's grant awards. The fund has been a generous benefactor of initiatives to protect large tracts of South America's tropical forests or to foster forest-friendly farming and industry in the region. Or both. Many of the biggest recipients have had a holistic approach that combines prohibiting deforestation with changing resource-wasting behaviors and, in addition, with further expanding protections to other ecosystems that link to the forests, such as watersheds.

Several grant awards have gone to the Falls Brook Centre, which works to protect mangrove forests in Honduras by restoring depleted forest areas and also by encouraging the use of the Analog Forestry System, a planned-forestry model for maintaining viable plots of forest area for moderated long-term use.

The Amazon Conservation Association is another winner of numerous Blue Moon grants, which funded its "comprehensive strategic plan" for conservation in the Bolivian-Andes-Amazon region, as well as its initiatives on watershed management and pollution controls. Economic opportunities in sustainability are also part of this group's program. Some of Blue Moon's grant funds assisted the association's fostering of sustainable farming, ecotourism, and other "green business" in the Amazon region. The Peruvian Association for the Conservation of Nature is another winner of multiple grants, for its combined efforts in Peru for forest reserves acquisition and management, watershed protection, and programs to mitigate solid waste and water contamination.

Plenty of forest-conservation efforts outside South America receive Blue Moon funding as well. The Wildlife Conservation Society, for instance, spearheads community-based habitat protection in Burma and China, plus a REDD program (financial incentives to a government to discourage deforestation within its borders) in Laos. The society disseminates biodiversity-friendly cattle-grazing practices in South America, too. Other grant beneficiaries, including the Forest Stewardship Council and the Dogwood Alliance, promote sustainable forest stewardship in the U.S. Appalachian region.

Blue Moon isn't Forsyth's only base of operations nowadays, incidentally. He continues to serve as secretary at Osa Conservation, a nonprofit he founded and that leads habitat conservation in Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula. He also maintains a research position in the Smithsonian Institution and serves on the Amazon Conservation Association's board of directors.