SANCTUARY: Global Oases of Innocence lovingly addresses the convergence of conservation biology, ecological sciences, animal rights and public policy, occurring throughout the world. With over 114,000 protected areas on earth, human endeavours to protect sacred places have spawned an environmental and spiritual renaissance. SANCTUARY profiles dedicated examples of that remarkable collective passion and suggests that our need to revere and celebrate nature may be a key to our survival as a species. Beginning with the world’s largest protected area that spans contiguous portions of Alaska and Canada and continuing with profiles of extraordinary individuals and their work in 19 other nations, SANCTUARY offers a singular vision of a world at peace ecologically.

Bhutan herself is strikingly emblematic of this “sanctuary movement.” Bhutan’s visionary Fourth King, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, enshrined over 60% of the nation as inviolable primeval forest. It is a land dominated by a cultural commitment to non-violence, mutual tolerance and respect for all sentient beings; where the measure of the economy is not merely per capita earning power, but the degree to which the nation’s people are enriched by a high quality of life. Here each and every individual can find deep and lasting forms of spiritual, as well as pragmatic sustainability. It is an example for concerned citizenry and policymakers of the world.

In SANCTUARY, the authors have chronicled a very special expedition into one of Bhutan’s most pristine habitats, its newest Wildlife SANCTUARY in Sakteng. A land inhabited by mountain people, the Brokpas, whose lives exhibit many of humanity’s finest qualities: generosity, community cohesiveness, spiritual integrity and a true innocence in the form of a deeply abiding connection to the natural world that has been nurtured by forward thinking Bhutanese conservation policies. The Brokpa, like indigenous peoples everywhere, are tied to nature. The authors point out that conservation can never exist without engaging the participation of and securing a future for those closest to the natural world.

Other nations have contributed their own unique visions of progressive, non-violent conservation. SANCTUARY looks at the continuing legacies of such animal welfare luminaries as Brigitte Bardot, Michael Aufhauser and Gene Baur whose efforts to strengthen animal protection legislation are exemplary and indicative of a global sea change. Their effective voices remind people that nature regards all creatures as equal and that it is our challenge as a powerful species to be modest, gentle and compassionate towards others. This is where conservation biology and animal welfare must come together to work in favor of all sentient beings, without discrimination.

In Poland’s exquisite old forest of Bialowieza, ornithologists have rallied to protect woodpeckers, an indicator species for the health of dead wood forests disappearing throughout Europe. In South Africa, Howard Buffett with his wife Devon struggle to save cheetahs from extinction, while working to alleviate poverty and disease and to provide clean drinking water for millions of people. Sanctuaries in the Nilgiris of South India, in Indonesian Borneo and on the island of Socotra in South Yemen, protect both indigenous peoples, like the Todas and the Dyak, while saving rare endemic orchids, orangutans and cinnabar trees.

Combining a persuasive overview of animal rights as a necessary precursor to global conservation initiatives, SANCTUARY offers methodologies for merging science and policy with spiritual ecology. With data gleaned from some of the most exquisite refuges in the world, Michael Tobias and Jane Morrison provide blueprints for hope. SANCTUARY advances the causes of the heart while embracing methods to ensure that critical habitat and endangered species are safeguarded. SANCTUARY is an ambitious and important book. Its authors have traveled the world in search of many of the most astonishing, little known and important ambassadors for conservation and animal welfare. In over 20 countries they have profiled inspiring examples of what is working and how good people make a difference.

It is fortuitous that the 2008 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C., worked with the Royal Government of Bhutan to celebrate Bhutanese culture, history, and conservation at the very moment that this book officially emerged as part of that Festival. With Bhutanese conservation being an important hallmark of this work, we have compelling synchronicity. As Bhutan herself presents a beacon of conservation for the 21st century, SANCTUARY: Global Oases of Innocence celebrates that movement in its international context.

Not only will SANCTUARY prove invaluable for policymakers and scientists, but it should provide inspiration for the next generation of young ecologists wanting to make a difference in the world. And it is for readers everywhere who wish to be reminded that the world of nature is beautiful and precious; and each of us has the opportunity, everyday, to help make profound changes that can bring peace and happiness to all living beings.

I congratulate the authors and deeply appreciate their extraordinary work.