Ecology and management of tropical secondary forest: science, people and policy
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The disturbance and destruction of the old-growth forests of the tropics continue to monopolize attention in international fora and the popular media, but a steadily growing land area is covered by secondary forest developing on sites which have been deforested and then abandoned by their owners. The natural process of secondary forest succession offers hope that the unique combination of goods and services provided by the original old-growth forests may be at least partially recovered. An enormous number of questions concerning secondary tropical forests and their potential role in sustainable land management and biodiversity conservation remain to be answered, however. Many of these questions are biological and ecological: What are the factors that bring about successional change in vegetation? How does biodiversity change during succession, does its similarity to the biodiversity of old-growth forests increase over time and why, or why not? How might secondary forests be manipulated to optimize their value for a given set of management objectives? Many more questions nevertheless concern people and their actions: what factors bring about land abandonment? How are secondary forests perceived and utilized by rural people? What market or policy changes may contribute to a more profitable and sustainable use of secondary forests? This volume contains 16 papers presented at a conference which brought together researchers concerned with biological, ecological, social/organizational, financial/economic and political aspects of secondary forests and their management with a strictly neo tropical focus. Although the biophysical side of secondary forest research dominated this conference, it is becoming clear that sound management of this resource will depend on interdisciplinary approaches.
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