About mongabay.com's Rhett Butler [return to about mongabay]
Mongabay.com is the effort of Rhett A. Butler and unless noted otherwise (usually at the top or bottom of a page), all content and pictures on mongabay have been written or produced by Rhett. Further background on Rhett Butler is available at the FAQs/Interview page and his official mongabay bio page.
Rhett can be contacted via email at
The history and mission of mongabay.com
Mongabay.com aims to raise interest in wildlife and wildlands while promoting awareness of environmental issues. Originally the site was based around a text on tropical rainforests that I developed four year period (1996-2000), but today the site has expanded to other topics. In 2004 I developed WildMadagasacar.org to focus on the incredible biodiversity of Madagascar. In 2005 I released a kids version of the rainforest site and launched the mongabay environmental science news site. In 2006, I introduced the first foreign language versions of the kids' site.
Mongabay.com and WildMadagascar.org were primarily funded by advertising between 1999-2013. In late 2013, much of Mongabay was shifted to a non-profit organization, Mongabay.org.
While I'm not a tropical biologist (my background is in math and economics), I have been involved with tropical rainforests since 1995 and have authored or co-authored several papers published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. More importantly, the information sources (peer-reviewed journals, respected researchers, etc) used by mongabay.com are credible. Furthermore, the site has been praised some of the world's leading conservation biologists and forest policy experts. Finally, since 2005 I have advised media outlets, corporations, NGOs, international development institutions, foundations, and governments on issues relating to forests.
A Place Out of Time
A Place Out of Time, the rainforest section of the site, is written for those who have an interest in the natural world. It is scripted to appeal to a broad audience so that readers from grade school students to stockbrokers to plumbers can enjoy and learn from this site. I have sought to broaden the reach and horizons of this text by incorporating and bringing together far flung (and sometimes seemingly unrelated) information from a variety of sources not easily accessible to most readers. In the process I have tried to simplify the sometimes complex subject matter and provide some insight into the current economic, political, and social climate for tropical rainforests.
I have long been fascinated with the natural world and its creatures but the idea for this project arose from a personal experience in the rainforest of Borneo. Despite my few years in the forest, this was not the first time I had lost such a special place, nor will it be the last.
These personal losses have long troubled me, but the loss of that small section of forest in Borneo created the urgency to act upon a thought that had been nagging me. While environmental losses and degradation of the rainforests have yet to reach the point of collapse, the continuing disappearance of wildlands and loss of its species is disheartening. I feel sorrow for those who have yet had the privilege to experience the magnificence of these places and try to picture how - should biodiversity losses continue to mount - I will explain to my grandchildren why these places of natural wonder that I enjoyed in my youth no longer exist.
The lesson of A Place Out of Time is we may not have to accept this future. A lot can still be done. Using our intelligence and ingenuity, the human species can preserve biodiversity and unique places for future generations, without compromising the quality of life for present populations.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions generated from mongabay.com operations (server, data transfer, travel) are mitigated through an association with Anthrotect, an organization working with Afro-indigenous and Embera communities to protect forests in Colombia's Darien region. Anthrotect is protecting the habitat of mongabay's mascot: the scale-crested pygmy tyrant.
"Rainforest" is used interchangeably with "rain forest" on this site. "Jungle" is generally not used.