© 2017

Nature’s Allies

Eight Conservationists Who Changed Our World

  • A compact book with a powerful impact that shows how lives of passion and perseverance can make a difference for

  • nature, and for people

  • Enhanced with historic—some previously unpublished—photos of the profiled subjects

  • The stories of eight ordinary citizens who brought our world into the environmental age and inspired future generations to carry forward the work of sustaining our earth and ensuring quality of life for its inhabitants, human and otherwise

  • Highlights conservationists with a diverse range of backgrounds to show how individuals can make a difference


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Larry A. Nielsen
    Pages 1-11
  3. John Muir
    Pages 12-37
  4. Ding Darling
    Pages 38-63
  5. Aldo Leopold
    Pages 64-93
  6. Rachel Carson
    Pages 94-119
  7. Chico Mendes
    Pages 120-145
  8. Billy Frank Jr.
    Pages 146-169
  9. Wangari Maathai
    Pages 170-195
  10. Gro Harlem Brundtland
    Pages 196-222
  11. Back Matter
    Pages 223-255

About this book


It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of big environmental challenges—but we need inspiration more than ever. With political leaders who deny climate change, species that are fighting for their very survival, and the planet’s last places of wilderness growing smaller and smaller, what can a single person do? In Nature’s Allies, Larry Nielsen uses the stories of conservation pioneers to show that through passion and perseverance, we can each be a positive force for change.
In eight engaging and diverse biographies—John Muir, Ding Darling, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Chico Mendes, Billy Frank Jr., Wangari Maathai, and Gro Harlem Brundtland—we meet individuals who have little in common except that they all made a lasting mark on our world. Some famous and some little known to readers, they spoke out to protect wilderness, wildlife, fisheries, rainforests, and wetlands. They fought for social justice and exposed polluting practices. They marched, wrote books, testified before Congress, performed acts of civil disobedience, and, in one case, were martyred for their defense of nature. Nature’s Allies pays tribute to them all as it rallies a new generation of conservationists to follow in their footsteps.
These vivid biographies are essential reading for anyone who wants to fight for the environment against today’s political opposition. Nature’s Allies will inspire students, conservationists, and nature lovers to speak up for nature and show the power of one person to make a difference.  


Conservationists Yosemite National Park National Wildlife Refuge System U.S. Biological Survey National Wildlife Federation Deforestation Sustainability definition John Muir Ding Darling Aldo Leopold Rachel Carson Chico Mendes Billy Frank Jr. Wangari Maathai Gro Harlem

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.CaryUSA

About the authors

Larry A. Nielsen is Professor of Natural Resources at North Carolina State University. He has worked in land grant universities—including earlier tenures Virginia Tech and Penn State—for forty years, as a faculty member and administrator, eventually becoming provost of North Carolina State University before returning to teaching and writing in 2009. He is a Fellow and Past President of the American Fisheries Society. He is author, coauthor, or coeditor of six books, including Ecosystem Management, published by Island Press, and Provost, a memoir and an analysis of university administration. Among many professional service roles, he served on the board of directors of the National Council for Science and the Environment for more than a decade. With Sharon, his wife of forty-seven years, he lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

Bibliographic information