In recent years, tropical forests have received more attention and have been the subject of greater environmental concern than any other kind of vegetation. There is an increasing public awareness of the importance of these forests, not only as a diminishing source of countless products used by mankind, nor for their effects on soil stabilization and climate, but as unrivalled sources of what today we call biodiversity. Threats to the continued existence of the forests represent threats to tens of thousands of species of organisms, both plants and animals. It is all the more surprising, therefore, that there have been no major scientific accounts published in recent years since the classic handbook by Paul W. Richards, The Tropical Rain Forest in 1952. Some excellent popular accounts of tropical rain forests have been published including Paul Richard's The Life of the Jungle, and Catherine Caulfield's In the Rainforest and Jungles, edited by Edward Ayensu. There have been numerous, often conflicting, assessments of the rate of conversion of tropical forests to other uses and explanations of the underlying causes, and in 1978 UNESCO/UNEPI FAO published a massive report, The Tropical Rain Forest, which, although full of useful information, is highly selective and does not fully survey the enormous diversity of the forests.