Peruvian biologist speaks to Troy University students

Posted: Thursday, 20 November 2008

TROY – A Peruvian biologist on Thursday told Troy University students deforestation and global climate change could affect every country in the world.

In conjunction with International Education Week, the Troy University Environmental Club and the Department of Biological & Environmental Sciences sponsored a lecture by Dr. Dennis Del Castillo Torres, director of the Terrestrial Research Institute of Investigations of the Peruvian Amazon.

Dr. Castillo is a member of the Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture’s Special Advisory Group, the United Nations Development Program’s Special Advisory Group on Human Development, and other international groups.

Dr. Castillo has more than 25 years of experience with projects in the Peruvian Amazon, Madagascar, West African and Bolivia, and he has worked with US AID, World Bank, and the European Commission.

“It is important to have speakers like Dr. Castillo come to Troy because the students have the privilege to gather information first hand from people who experience it first hand,” said Dr. Michael Stewart, Department of Biological Science (Troy University).

Castillo’s lecture, entitled “Deforestation, Livelihood, and Climate Change in the Tropics,” began with a PowerPoint presentation that showed images of dry land with poor soil that was once flourished with greenery and rich soil. Charts and graphs indicating how deforestation rapidly continues were also displayed. Castillo pointed out that climate change – defined as any long-term significant change in the average weather in a given region -- is a major challenge facing the world.

“We are living in a new world were everything is changing in every region of the world. We have glaciers in the arctic regions of the world and dangerous greenhouse gases in others that are causing major global problems,” he said.

Deforestation, according to Castillo, was once called “the hidden cause of global warming,” but now is being recognized as a primary cause of climate change.

“The accelerating destruction of the rainforests by illegal logging is a big problem in our birthplace, the Amazon,” he said. “Stopping the loggers is the fastest and cheapest solution to climate change.”

Studies show that by implementing reforestation, a process in which the restocking of existing forests and woodlands that have been depleted, the amount of woodland has increased in 22 of the world's 50 most forested nations.

Castillo also discussed topics ranging from carbon dioxide emissions in Latin America to ecological independence. Latin American politicians are pushing their governments to slash carbon dioxide emissions. Those countries, Castillo said, are responsible for about 12 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.

Castillo said his primary aim was focused on sharing information about the global environment.

“I want to share the knowledge about global environment to people from all over the world, people from the states, people in Africa and South America. That is why I do what I do,” said Castillo.

For at least one student, the message was well placed.

“We the students can help turn some of these major problems by promoting awareness on these and other topics,” said Ayotola Owoladi, an international student from Nigeria.

Dr. Dennis Del Castillo Torres

Dr. Dennis Del Castillo Torres, director of the Terrestrial Research Institute of Investigations of the Peruvian Amazon, presented a lecture at Troy University in connection with International Education Week on Thursday. (TROY photo/Kevin Glackmeyer)