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I just loaded the free Kindle app on my iPad and then downloaded Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle on the Gutenberg site (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3704), also free and complete with illustrations. Very, very cool.
Anyway, in the first chapter of his book Darwin describes the deforestation that he encountered when they anchored at Porto Praya, in St. Jago, the main island of the Cape de Verd archipelago, on January 16, 1832. Unfortunately, deforestation is still a problem.
Here’s what Darwin wrote:
“When the island was discovered, the immediate neighbourhood of Porto Praya was clothed with trees, the reckless destruction of which has caused here, as at St. Helena, and at some of the Canary islands, almost entire sterility. The broad, flat-bottomed valleys, many of which serve during a few days only in the season as watercourses, are clothed with thickets of leafless bushes. Few living creatures inhabit these valleys. The commonest bird is a kingfisher (Dacelo Iagoensis), which tamely sits on the branches of the castor-oil plant, and thence darts on grasshoppers and lizards. It is brightly coloured, but not so beautiful as the European species: in its flight, manners, and place of habitation, which is generally in the driest valley, there is also a wide difference.”
Charles Darwin. The Voyage of the Beagle