Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists must offer solutions for conserving tropical forests in a rapidly changing world

05.09.2005


As the future of the tropics unfolds, scientists must explain the dimensions and mechanisms of forest responses to rapid human-population increase and environmental changes



As human populations and their impacts on the world increase, tropical forests are changing in many different ways. Forests are being cleared, burned, logged, fragmented, and overhunted and an unprecedented pace, and they are also being altered in insidious ways by global climatic and atmospheric changes. "The evidence for global effects suggests that a massive reorganization of the structure and dynamics of tropical forests is already underway" writes ecologist S. Joseph Wright, "The tropics support over half of all species and over two-thirds of all people. Without an appropriate commitment from the scientific community, the two are unlikely to continue to coexist," concludes the scientist.

Tropical forest landscapes are changing rapidly in the eyes of scientists working on tropical monitoring plots around the globe, while human populations and their economic activities grow. Old-growth forests become agricultural lands, degraded land is abandoned, urbanization intensifies, and the populations of tropical countries will increase by two billion over the next 25 years.


But what is happening in protected areas? Globally, 18% of all tropical and subtropical moist forest and 9% of all tropical dry forests are nominally protected by governments. Increasingly, even these areas seem to be bearing the indelible marks of human activity.

On Barro Colorado Island (BCI) administered by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in the Republic of Panama, the old-growth forest has escaped fire and agriculture for at least 1500 years. STRIìs Center for Tropical Forest Science (CTFS) has repeatedly censused all steams one centimeter of diameter or more at 1.3 m height in a 50-hectare plot every five years since 1985. Wright notes that the aboveground biomass on BCI was almost constant since the first census. But lianas increased substantially (from 9% to 13% of all leaf biomass) between 1986 and 2002.

In another protected area, the Kibale National Park in Uganda, a 30-year record suggests that reproductive activity by forest trees is increasing; and at La Selva, Costa Rica, diameter-growth rates decreased among surviving individuals for cohorts of nine species measured annually for 17 years. These mysterious changes may be caused by large-scale drivers, such as increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, intense droughts, or other poorly understood phenomena.

Wright, who has studied tropical forests and its plant and animal inhabitants since the late ’70 at STRI, encourages tropical scientists to conduct assessments based on existing long-term records. Basic research will help us to understand the dimensions and mechanisms of forest responses to anthropogenic forcing. Conservation scientists must help to mitigate the number of species lost to extinction by enhancing the effectiveness of the network of protected areas. Other applied research will help to rehabilitate degraded lands and to improve agricultural yields and living standards.

According to William F. Laurance, Wright’s colleague at STRI and frequent spokesman for conservation efforts in Africa and the Amazon, "the commitment of tropical biologists must go a step further to include effective communication of their findings to decision makers and the general public. It is those who will eventually demand that governments invest in research and conservation of tropical forests and who will work to slow the rapid, unsustainable growth of human populations in the tropics."

S. Joseph Wright | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.stri.org/
http://www.si.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Global threat to primates concerns us all
19.01.2017 | Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH - Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung

nachricht Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Bodyguards in the gut have a chemical weapon

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>