Raymond F. Dasmann

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Raymond F. Dasmann, "a founder of international environmentalism and a professor emeritus of ecology at UC Santa Cruz, died Tuesday, November 5 [2007], in Santa Cruz. Dasmann had been in ill health for several years. The cause of death was pneumonia. He was 83.

"Dasmann was the author of more than a dozen books, including The Destruction of California (1965), Environmental Conservation (fifth edition 1984), Wildlife Biology (second edition 1981), and California's Changing Environment (1981). A visionary environmentalist, Dasmann began working as a conservation biologist in the 1950s when the field was just emerging, identifying the major threats of population growth, pollution, habitat loss, and species eradication that would become the focus of international conservation efforts for decades to come.

"Dasmann made an impassioned plea for sustainability on a planet with limited resources. In addition to his academic career, Dasmann did pioneering work in the 1960s with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), where he helped launch the Man and the Biosphere program. For most of the 1970s, he worked in Switzerland as a senior ecologist for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

"Dasmann's efforts earned him many major international awards, including the top conservation medals of the World Wildlife Society and the Smithsonian Institution. The prestigious Order of the Golden Ark, which recognizes the world's most distinguished conservationists, was bestowed on Dasmann by the Dutch government in 1978. He became an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1984 and received the Distinguished Service Award from the Society for Conservation Biology in 1988.

"Born in San Francisco, Dasmann was fascinated by wildlife from an early age. His college education in biology was interrupted by World War II; he served in New Guinea and Australia, where he met his wife of 45 years, Elizabeth Sheldon. Soon after his return to the United States, Dasmann enrolled at UC Berkeley to study zoology under famed wildlife biologist Starker Leopold. He received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, and in 1954 embarked on a distinguished career in teaching, research, and public service. Other than a brief appointment at the University of Minnesota, Dasmann's academic roots remained planted in California soil. He was a professor of wildlife management at Humboldt State University for eight years before joining the faculty at UC Santa Cruz in 1977. He retired from UCSC in 1989...

"Earlier this year, Dasmann published his memoir, Called by the Wild: The Autobiography of a Conservationist (Berkeley, CA: University of California, Press, 2002). The book reflects Dasmann's desire to give credit to others, but in fact Dasmann is one of a handful of visionaries who gave life to the worldwide environmental movement...

"Dasmann's most recent efforts focused on creation of the Golden Gate Biosphere Reserve (GGBR), one of 300 international sites designated by the United Nations for protection and access. The GGBR consists of more than two million acres that extend from the Bodega Marine Laboratory north of San Francisco to Jasper Ridge near Stanford University and 30 miles offshore to the edge of the Continental Shelf. The reserve is managed by nine separate entities, each of which helps protect the wide variety of native species and natural habitats that characterize the coastal region of central California while offering recreational and educational opportunities for many millions of visitors." [1]

"During the 1960s, he worked at the Conservation Foundation in Washington, D.C., as Director of International Programs and was also a consultant on the development of the 1969 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. In the 1970s he worked with UNESCO where he initiated the Man and the Biosphere program (MAB), an international research and conservation program, which is still ongoing." [2]

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  1. Environmental Visionary Raymond F. Dasmann Dies at 83, University of California, accessed April 26, 2009.
  2. Raymond F. Dasmann: A Life in Conservation Biology, accessed April 26, 2009.