Raymond Dasmann

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Raymond F. Dasmann (* 1919 ; † November 5, 2002 in Santa Cruz , California) was an American conservation biologist, professor of ecology and founder of the UNESCO Biosphere Program . Dasmann was a field biologist who was instrumental in shaping the modern conservation movement and published more than a dozen books on the subject.

Dasmann studied at UC Berkeley with the wildlife biologist A. Starker Leopold. The Ph.D. in zoology he obtained in 1954. He began his scientific career at Humboldt State University , where he was professor for "natural resources" from 1954 to 1965. In the 1960s he worked for the Conservation Foundation in Washington, DC, as Director of International Programs and was a Consultant in 1969 at the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. In the 1970s he worked for UNESCO and was instrumental in the initiative for the "Man and the Biosphere program (MAB)", which led to today's biosphere reserves worldwide. At the same time he was Senior Ecologist for the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) in Switzerland. From 1977 to 1989 he was a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz . In 1989 he retired. In 2002 Raymond Dassmann died at the age of 83 as the father of three daughters, five grandchildren and one great-grandson.

Work and impact

"Conservation in the old sense, of this or that resource in isolation from all other resources, is not enough. Environmental conservation based on ecological knowledge and social understanding is required.
Nature conservation in the old understanding of this or that resource is not enough. The protection of the environment requires both an ecological knowledge and a social understanding. "

- Raymond Dasmann in Enviromental Conservation, 1959

The destruction of California became a classic in many ecology courses at US universities in the 1970s. He developed the idea of ecodevelopment according to which social growth must not be based on the exploitation of natural resources. Dasmann also always insisted that indigenous people must play a central role in solving ecological questions. With this in mind, he developed the "Man and the Biosphere Program (MAB)" for UNESCO in the 1970s, which led to today's biosphere reserves worldwide.

With "Ecosystem people" and "Biosphere people" , Dasmann introduced two terms at the end of the 1980s that have found their way into relevant American literature today. Before the first civilizations, all people on earth were ecosystem people who lived within one or a few ecosystems and whose survival depended entirely on the functioning of these ecosystems. Subsistence economies based on hunting and gathering , simple soil cultivation and nomadic cattle farming are still included in these groups today. They have close and complex relationships between culture and nature; B. through various rituals that serve to avoid overexploiting the living space . Dasmann calls all those people biosphere people who, with the help of science, technology and the market economy, increasingly influence the entire global biosphere . Their goods often come from far away areas and most of them live in cities. Disturbances in individual ecosystems are often not noticed and also have no noticeable effects on people. Negative effects of their actions on the environment are not prevented by rituals. Instead, Dasmann writes that man now has the same power for the good or for the ruin of the world as the ecosystem people ascribed only to the gods.


  • Environmental Conservation. 1959
  • The Destruction of California. 1965
  • Wildlife biology . 1981, ISBN 0-471-08042-X

Individual evidence

  1. ^ LCCN entry in the Library of Congress
  2. ^ Obituary in the NYT http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/14/us/raymond-dasmann-83-environmentalist.html
  3. http://library.ucsc.edu/reg-hist/dasmann
  4. Raymond Dasmann, 'Toward a Biosphere Consciousness' , The Ends of the Earth (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1988), 279