Ethnobotanist honored for contributions to wilderness medicine
August 8, 2007
Renowned ethnobotanist and conservationist Dr. Mark Plotkin of the Amazon Conservation Team was honored Wednesday with the 2007 Paul S. Auerbach Award, a distinction awarded by the Wilderness Medical Society (WMS).
In selecting Plotkin, WMS recognized his "sustained significant service to wilderness medicine and scientific achievement in the field."
Dr. Plotkin's two decades of work in the Amazon includes research and collaboration with Amazon shamans. In 1996 he co-founded the Amazon Conservation Team, a group that seeks to "preserve and pass on the ancient shamanic wisdom to present and future generations, both in the Amazon and around the world," according to WMS. Plotkin has also authored two influential books, Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice (1993) and Medicine Quest: In Search of Nature's Healing Secrets (2000), and has been honored as a "Hero for the Planet" by Time Magazine (1999).
Plotkin with Amasina, a shaman of the Trio tribe in Suriname. Photo courtesy of the Amazon Conservation Team.
Founded in 1983, the Wilderness Medical Society (WMS) is the world's leading organization devoted to wilderness medical challenges. Wilderness medicine topics include expedition and disaster medicine, dive medicine, search and rescue, altitude illness, cold- and heat-related illness, wilderness trauma, and wild animal attacks. WMS explores health risks and safety issues in extreme situations such as mountains, jungles, deserts, caves, marine environments, and space.
Amazon Indians use Google Earth, GPS to protect forest home Monday, November 13, 2006
Deep in the most remote jungles of South America, Amazon Indians are using Google Earth, Global Positioning System (GPS) mapping, and other technologies to protect their fast-dwindling home. Tribes in Suriname, Brazil, and Colombia are combining their traditional knowledge of the rainforest with Western technology to conserve forests and maintain ties to their history and cultural traditions, which include profound knowledge of the forest ecosystem and medicinal plants. Helping them is the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT), a nonprofit organization working with indigenous people to conserve biodiversity, health, and culture in South American rainforests.
Indians are key to rainforest conservation efforts says renowned ethnobotanist Monday, October 30, 2006
Tropical rainforests house hundreds of thousands of species of plants, many of which hold promise for their compounds which can be used to ward off pests and fight human disease. No one understands the secrets of these plants better than indigenous shamans -medicine men and women - who have developed boundless knowledge of this library of flora for curing everything from foot rot to diabetes. But like the forests themselves, the knowledge of these botanical wizards is fast-disappearing due to deforestation and profound cultural transformation among younger generations. The combined loss of this knowledge and these forests irreplaceably impoverishes the world of cultural and biological diversity. Dr. Mark Plotkin, President of the non-profit Amazon Conservation Team, is working to stop this fate by partnering with indigenous people to conserve biodiversity, health, and culture in South American rainforests. Plotkin, a renowned ethnobotanist and accomplished author (Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice, Medicine Quest) who was named one of Time Magazine's environmental "Hero for the Planet," has spent parts of the past 25 years living and working with shamans in Latin America. Through his experiences, Plotkin has concluded that conservation and the well-being of indigenous people are intrinsically linked -- in forests inhabited by indigenous populations, you can't have one without the other. Plotkin believes that existing conservation initiatives would be better-served by having more integration between indigenous populations and other forest preservation efforts.
Wilderness Medical Society
Amazon Conservation Team
This article is based on a news release from WMS