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Tropical Forest

The tropical forest biome consists of extremely bio-diverse ecosystems immediately north and south of the equator in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Australia. They contain the greatest diversity of terrestrial flora and fauna coexisting within complex and highly specialized ecological relationships. Tropical rainforests straddle the equatorial belt and are subject to year round warmth and abundant rainfall/sunlight. Tall, straight trees form a high, dense canopy under which vegetation is multilayered and continuous (vines and epiphytes). The rates of growth and decomposition are extremely fast making it one the most biologically productive ecosystems on earth. Seasonal tropical forests experience a monsoon climate where rainfall occurs during the wet season reflecting changes in wind direction and drought during periods of high pressure. These forests are generally found in the coastal regions of Asia and the Americas, often mixed ecosystems with slower rates of growth that transition into tropical dry forests or savannas. Tropical deciduous forests are found along the latitudinal limits of the tropics (sub-tropical) and experience more distinct seasons: at higher elevations, a longer dry season with some rain in both winter and summer; at lower elevations with less rainfall, these forest ecosystems include thornscrub and cacti that often transition into desert ecosystems.

Threats to the tropical forest ecosystems include commercial and slash/burn agriculture, clearing for livestock and fuel, unsustainable (illegal) logging, and excessive hunting and gathering activities.  Invasive species, poverty, pollution, mining and infrastructure development also contribute significantly to habitat and species loss. Recovery after disturbance can take a long time as nutrient accumulation is very slow once the forest has been cleared or degraded.

WEBSITES

A Student Guide to Tropical Forest Conservation
This guide shows how modern forest practices can help stem the tide of forest destruction while providing valuable forest products for people. The tropical forests of Puerto Rico, which were abused for centuries, were badly depleted by the early 1900’s. Widespread abandonment of poor agricultural lands has allowed natural reforestation and planting programs to create a patchwork of private, Commonwealth, and Federal forests across the land. The most frequent example in this publication is the Luquillo Experimental Forest, which could be a model for protecting and managing tropical forests worldwide.

Center for Tropical Ecology and Conservation
The Center for Tropical Ecology and Conservation (CTEC) at Antioch University New England is committed to supporting education and research in tropical ecology, conservation and the sustainable use of tropical ecosystems. CTEC works to create links between New England and the tropics.

Deforestation: Tropical Forests in Decline
This Forestry Issues paper examines the extent of tropical deforestation in developing countries, its causes and consequences, and the prospects for more sustainable land use alternatives. The paper has been prepared as a contribution to the general public’s better understanding of the complex social, economic, and environmental issues that surround tropical deforestation. It represents the analysis and opinion of the authors and no official Canadian Government policy is implied.

FAO Forestry Department
The FAO Forestry Web site provides literally thousands of pages of information, access to all of FAO¿s forest-related databases, detailed country profiles and links to documents on all aspects of forestry. Recent additions include new sites on forest fire, national forest programmes and forest reproductive material, among others. Pages are available in English, French and Spanish, and increasingly also in Arabic and Chinese. The site includes pages for technical specialists as well as the general public.

FAO State of the World’s Forests 2003
The State of the World’s Forests reports every two years on the status of forests, recent major policy and institutional developments and key issues concerning the forest sector. This is the fifth edition of the publication, the purpose of which is to provide current and reliable information to policy-makers, foresters and other natural resource managers, academics, forest industry and civil society.

Forest Trends
Forest Trends is an international non-profit organization that works to expand the value of forests to society; to promote sustainable forest management and conservation by creating and capturing market values for ecosystem services; to support innovative projects and companies that are developing these new markets; and to enhance the livelihoods of local communities living in and around those forests. We analyze strategic market and policy issues, catalyze connections between forward-looking producers, communities and investors, and develop new financial tools to help markets work for conservation and people.

Global Deforestation
It is impossible to overstate the importance of humankind’s clearing of the forests. The transformation of forested lands by human actions represents one of the great forces in global environmental change and one of the great drivers of biodiversity loss. The impact of people has been and continues to be profound. Forests are cleared, degraded and fragmented by timber harvest, conversion to agriculture, road-building, human-caused fire, and in myriad other ways.

Mongabay.com
Lingering beside a small stream in the Malaysian rainforest of Sabah, on the island of Borneo, I watch the water move swiftly over worn, round stones. The pace of the flow quickens as the stream cascades over a short waterfall into a clear pool. Vibrantly colored butterflies in shades of yellow, orange, and green flirt with columns of light that penetrate the dense canopy. The raucous calls of hornbills challenge the melodic drone of cicadas. Though the forest is never silent or still, it brings a deep sense of calm.

Rainforest Rescue International
Our central focus is to actively demonstrate sustainable principles and promote biodiversity conservation within the local community, through environmental education and other extension activities. We aim to reintroduce the concept of sustainable livelihood to the people of the rainforest.

Tropical Broadleaf Evergreen Forest
The tropical rainforest is earth’s most complex biome in terms of both structure and species diversity. It occurs under optimal growing conditions: abundant precipitation and year round warmth. There is no annual rhythm to the forest; rather each species has evolved its own flowering and fruiting seasons. Sunlight is a major limiting factor. A variety of strategies have been successful in the struggle to reach light or to adapt to the low intensity of light beneath the canopy.

Tropical Montane Cloud Forest
The Cloud Forest Agenda report is designed to stimulate new initiatives and partnerships for the conservation and restoration of tropical montane cloud forests around the world. The report provides the first global maps of cloud forests, alongside information on their biodiversity and watershed importance, and a regional analysis of the threats to cloud forests. It concludes with an agenda for action, identifying global to national priorities and opportunities.

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