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Surprise! Biodiversity and resource use may co-exist in tropical forests
Date:3/25/2011

sts. But for a given forest size, the probability of achieving such dual success is higher in forests where local forest users or local communities maintain a formal role in management.

Nevertheless, the researchers say that their findings are particularly relevant for small forest patches in human-dominated landscapes, which--when supporting local livelihoods--face the most difficult conservation challenges.

The results of the study challenge some scholarly research that has depicted the conservation of tropical forests and resource use to support livelihoods as mutually exclusive. However, these previous studies tended to focus on either social outcomes or ecological outcomes--not on these two potential outcomes together.

By contrast, this study is the first study to identify which social, ecological and governance factors simultaneously promote biodiversity and forest-based livelihoods. Also, the study, which is based on data from 84 sites in six countries in East Africa and South Asia, is only one of a few studies that identifies factors that may promote biodiversity or forest-based livelihoods across multiple countries, instead of just in specific locations and specific contexts.

"One thing that is clear is that overcoming forest governance challenges is central to maintaining the diverse benefit flows of tropical forest," said Persha. "The effort involved in funding and collecting data on the scale of this research, across so many sites and countries, is substantial--but also vital for generating a more solid evidence base to help decision-makers construct better policies for forest sustainability to meet multiple social and ecological goals."

Team member Arun Agrawal of the University of Michigan added: "Interdisciplinary research requires giving up entrenched disciplinary biases. We are glad to see the most prestigious research journals in the world recognizing the need for such research and making it possible to
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Contact: Lily Whiteman
lwhitema@nsf.gov
703-292-8310
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert  

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Surprise! Biodiversity and resource use may co-exist in tropical forests
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