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

nstant 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."


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Source:Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute


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