This week, every conversation, it seemed, began with the temperature: the brutal, single-degree, face-ravaging temperature. Sure, after last winter’s aberrantly balmy conditions, it was refreshing to feel cold again — or at least it was, for a few days. But as the week stretched on and the mercury kept dropping, our thoughts turned, increasingly and longingly, toward spring, not to mention spring break.
What a pleasant experience it was, then, to step into Kroon and be greeted by the International Society of Tropical Foresters photo competition. Sixteen images from the world’s warmest places — Latin America, Southeast Asia, Africa — depicting exotic flora, captivating fauna, and thriving human industry, from a vast timber plantation to a harvest of lumpy endemic potatoes. And everyone, from the well-disguised stick insect to the grinning taro farmer, just looks so warm.
Of course, the warmth of the tropics is far from the only reason we value them — indeed, that might be the least important reason. These are one-of-a-kind ecosystems, blessed with biodiversity and teeming with vital cultures and communities. The Yale chapter of the ISTF is dedicated to preserving these remarkable places and species, both for their productivity and for their extraordinary intrinsic value. Let us salute our tropical foresters and conservationists — and hope they invite us on a field trip, soon.