As fast as the rainforest is disappearing — the people of the rainforest are disappearing even faster. Mark Plotkin works to preserve generations of knowledge.

Why you should listen

Mark Plotkin is an ethnobotanist, studying the traditional uses for plants in Central and South America forests. He works closely with shamans, community leaders who practice traditional healing techniques using plants and animals, learned over uncounted generations. But when forests are disrupted (by illegal logging, for instance), that knowledge risks being lost. Plotkin's work helps to collect and share shamanic learning, with a twofold goal: to preserve the rainforest by showing its value as a source of yet-to-be-discovered pharmaceuticals.
Plotkin pioneered his research working with the Trio Indians of southern Suriname, and has also worked with elder shamans from Mexico, Panama, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Brazil. He's the author of the best-selling book Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice. With his wife, Liliana Madrigal, he co-founded the Amazon Conservation Team, a group that helps indigenous people purchase and protect their sacred sites.


What others say

“Liliana and Mark recognized that the loss of the forest and the destruction of tribal culture were inextricably linked and that one could not thrive without the othe” — Skoll Foundation

Mark Plotkin’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Mark Plotkin


Bold expeditions: A recap of session 12 of TEDGlobal 2014

October 10, 2014

In the final session of TEDGlobal 2014, Mighty spaces, we take four journeys — three to great expanses in the world, and one into our minds and hearts: A low blue haze lights the stage as choreographer Aakash Odedra spins slowly. The light grows and his dance picks up — a mix of classical Indian […]

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