Tropical Forest Restoration

Authored by: David Lamb

Routledge Handbook of Ecological and Environmental Restoration

Print publication date:  May  2017
Online publication date:  May  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138922129
eBook ISBN: 9781315685977
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315685977.ch23

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Abstract

Methods of restoring tropical forests are broadly similar to those used to restore forests in other biogeographical regions. That is, they involve identifying the relevant species to use and finding ways of assembling these to create diverse and sustainable new forest communities resembling the historical ecosystems once present at a particular site. But tropical regions also have several features that make this task a little different to that faced in most temperate regions. One is that tropical ecosystems often have higher levels of biodiversity, especially those in moister regions with short dry seasons. This means it can be difficult to identify all the species originally present because many are present in very low densities and are hard to find. One immediate consequence of this is it can be very difficult to make fully representative seed collections to begin the restoration process. A second difference is that temperatures are mostly warmer so that that growth and reproduction is often rapid and inter-specific competition can begin at a relatively early stage of the restoration process. Successional changes can be rapid and adaptive management is needed from a very early stage. A third factor is that deforestation is still ongoing in many tropical areas, in contrast to much of the temperate world where deforestation often occurred in the distant past. This means knowledge of the relevant biota and ecosystems is commonly incomplete and ecosystems are being destroyed before we understand the species involved, their taxonomy or how they interact or function. Each of these features has obvious implications for the ways in which restoration can be undertaken in tropical regions.

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