Donald Perry

1984 Laureate, Exploration
United States, Born 1947

Project Goal

Design an "aerial tram" with a system of ropes and pulleys to open the tropical forest canopy to observation

Location: Costa Rica

Donald Perry is convinced that climbing trees and living in forest canopies were crucial steps in human evolution.

Born in 1947, Donald Perry has spent over 30 years developing new methods for exploring and understanding the complex biological communities found in the tree tops. His 1984 Rolex Award allowed him to upgrade his work by developing an aerial “tram” on cableways that can lift people into the forest canopies. Perry’s life goal has been to remind humanity of the importance of the fast-disappearing rainforests and to allow people to visit them without damaging them. He is currently creating a new cableway that will take disabled people and others into the canopies. He is also finalizing a book, Climbing the Tree of Knowledge, which explains “gymnastics, mountain climbing, why children learn to climb before they can walk and how we became the most intelligent species on earth”. Donald Perry’s canopy-access methods are now used by arboreal biologists worldwide.
Published in 2012

Other 1984 Laureates