services, natural beauty and pleasure, and sustaining human lives is a message that requires constant attention and recrafting to impact diverse audiences.
The last decade of the 20th century was the first time a sense of urgency about the global-scale degradation of natural habitats, and the resultant threats to potentially millions of species, galvanized an effort to both study and conserve what was at risk. Edward O. Wilson (1988) was the first to publish the word “biodiversity” in the 1988 proceedings from a conference held in 1986 organized by W. J. Rosen, who originally coined the term. The current decimation of species, commonly called the biodiversity crisis, was the subject of Wilson’s landmark book entitled The Diversity of Life, published in 1992. Subsequently, many other publications (Peters and Lovejoy, 1992; Heywood and Watson, 1995; Eldredge, 2000; Mooney and Hobbs, 2000; Novacek, 2001a, 2007; Wilson, 2002) have addressed this problem. By the late 1990s, biodiversity became the subject of elementary, secondary, and college courses, public journalism, television specials, and major museum exhibits. If biodiversity was still not a commonly recognized word, a broader public at least seemed to be getting the message that precious natural habitats and their species were under intense siege. In addition, scientific institutions, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and other groups pushed for more science and more effective policy to improve our stewardship of biodiversity under threat. Some governments reacted by adopting laws, regulations, and programs that limited overharvesting of both marine (Safina et al., 2005; Stokstad, 2006) and terrestrial (Blanc et al., 2003) species, controlled selected invasive species (Normile, 2004), and secured protection for selected natural habitats (Foley et al., 2005; Revkin, 2008).
Given all this enlightenment, commitment, and effort, it is sobering to reflect, nearly 20 years later, on the continued deterioration of the situation. Despite impassioned pleas and elaborate strategies for conserving rain forests, the rate of loss has hardly abated. Brazil, which holds ≈62% of all Amazonian rain forest, lost on average ≈18,100 km2/yr between 1988 and 2006 but registered a loss of 27,400 km2/yr in 2004. Brazilian deforestation rates decreased by 2006 to ≈14,000 km2/yr, but this trend could be temporary, because falling prices of soya and the increased strength of Brazilian currency and government intervention contributed to the decrease (Malhi et al., 2008). Africa, with a significantly smaller amount of forest cover, lost an amount of forest comparable to that for South America for the same time period (Mygatt, 2006). Other regions of the world, notably Southeast Asia, are recording similarly serious losses (Sterling et al., 2006; United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 2006). The situation