With Honourable Intent: A Natural History of Fauna & Flora International by Tim Knight and Mark Rose
By John Burton, WLT Founder CEO
To begin, I must declare a conflict of interest and a conflict of loyalty. This is not an independent, unprejudiced review. Fauna and Flora International (FFI) was once the Society for the Preservation of the Fauna of the Empire, but by the 1950s along with the empire disappearing, it became the Fauna Preservation Society. I joined the staff (part time) in 1975, ran it until 1988, and a large part in the middle of this volume is about the time of my tenure.
It was the time when Flora was added to the name, a time of much change in the world of conservation, and I feel privileged to have been a part of it. This is a mighty tome, and I have huge admiration for the authors. It was an incredible task to take on – to write a history of an organisation that has not only existed since 1903, but has published a significant Journal (now Oryx) for most of its life. Thousands of pages of documentation. It is a truly remarkable readable account and, certainly for the period I was familiar with, a very accurate reflection of events. While it is theoretically following a traditional timeline approach, the authors have been very creative, and by darting back and forth they have made it so much more readable.
At £50 and 1.8kg, it is more of a coffee table book than bedtime reading. It is lavishly illustrated and I would expect most university libraries to have it, as it is an ideal source book for anyone doing a conservation degree. I hope that one day FFI put it online in some form or other to make it more widely available. It certainly deserves a wide readership.