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Large scale, catastrophic fires have become a significant and visible part of the tropical forest landscape in the past two decades with increased commercial exploitation of forests, forest conversion and increased population pressure. Secondary forests are an increasingly prominent feature of tropical landscapes and fires play a significant role in both the creation and destruction of these forests. In the past two decades large scale forest fires have become more frequent in the moist tropics. In addition to climatic factors, the nature of tropical forests appears to be changing and becoming, as a consequence, more predisposed to burning. Secondary forests arising from intensive logging, in particular those that are in a degraded condition, are particularly vulnerable to repeated burning and further degradation. There has been limited general success in fire prevention and rehabilitation of secondary forests affected by fire. In addition, forest policy is not yet sufficiently attuned to address the management needs of the ever increasing area of secondary forests affected by or developing following fire. Little is known about the exact extent and economic value or potential of post fire secondary forests in Asia. It is clear, however, based on the experience of the past two decades, that there has been a significant increase in secondary forest affected by fire, particularly in Indonesia. Rough estimates for Indonesia infer that there could be as many as 5 million ha of post fire secondary forests following the 1997 98 fires. Based on this knowledge alone, it would seem that post fire secondary forest is already an important forest type that will provide important goods and services both to the environment, the state and local communities alike, as the area of primary forest diminishes through overexploitation and conversion.
- CIFOR Test Harvesting