Operation Forest Storm

Outside magazine, December 1995


Operation Forest Storm
By Todd Balf and Paul Kvinta


With bar-code scanners blazing, biologist Dan Janzen and a band of about 200 taxonomists will fan out across Costa Rica's 463-square-mile Guanacaste Conservation Area next month to conduct what may be the most ambitious wildlife survey ever conceived: They hope to find, count, and classify every species of plant, animal, virus, and whatever other life forms are to be found in the jungle. Literally. The point, says Janzen, is nothing new. It's to give industry, particularly biomedical companies, a complete picture of what's in the jungle so that its R&D interests might be enlisted for species preservation. But the huge scope of the All-Taxa Biodiversity Inventory is a little mind-boggling. "We could find something like 230,000 species out there," he figures. "But you can't use the forest wisely until you've done this first."

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