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Research Report

Futures of tropical production forests

Francis E Putz
Claudia Romero
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2015
Pages: 51
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-13)

    The fates of natural production forests in the tropics will continue to be determined by market forces, labor availability, governmental policies, qualities of governance and institutional frameworks (e.g. tenure and rights allocation), and cultural values, which all interact with the diverse impacts of climate change and the many effects of globalization (Putz and Romero 2014). Of these factors, financial issues, as affected by governnmental policies, their enforcement and institutions, will most often determine whether forests are degraded or managed (e.g. see Roda et al. 2015). These financial considerations are mediated by security of property rights (Agrawal et al. 2008), which...

  2. (pp. 14-16)

    The business-as-usual scenario of continued forest degradation by loggers is likely under a variety of tenure regimes and under a wide range of regulatory, socioeconomic and biophysical conditions. Anywhere that the fates of forests are principally determined by profit-maximizing loggers, be they rural community members or employees of industrial timber concession, this trajectory is favored. Degradation is likely to lead to deforestation in accessible areas where non-forestland uses are financially remunerative, at least over the short term (e.g. Asner et al. 2006). Basically, this trajectory is likely where governments and other landowners fail to maintain the ecological integrity and productivity...

  3. (pp. 17-21)

    The first big step that still needs to be taken toward SFM in much of the tropics is the minimization of the deleterious environmental impacts of selective timber harvests through the application of RIL techniques (Figure 5). Regardless of the silvicultural approach applied, protection of soil from compaction, streams from excessive sediment loads, future crop trees (if any) from damage and workers from unnecessary risks are all important (see Putz et al. 2008). As expected, use of RIL results in substantial increases in retention of carbon (e.g. Griscom et al. 2014) and biodiversity (e.g. Bicknell et al. 2014). RIL guidelines...

  4. (pp. 22-26)

    Despite the diversity of tropical silvicultural systems described in the literature (e.g. Gunter et al. 2011), the results of the well-publicized experiments on shelterwoods (e.g. Hutchinson 1988), strip clearcuts (e.g. Hartshorn 1989), liberation thinning (e.g. Hutchinson 1981; Wadsworth and Zweede 2006) and other silvicultural treatments are seldom applied at operational scales by forest industries. Instead, when enough trees of commercial species reach harvestable size, they are selectively felled, with or without governmental approval. To glorify this mining of timber as “silviculture” disgraces the term. In the few examples where post-logging silvicultural treatments have been applied beyond the confines of experimental...

  5. (pp. 27-31)

    Whether tropical production forests start to be responsibly managed or continue to be exploited until they are replaced by some other land use will continue to be influenced by economic development and associated improvements in governance as well as with the identities of the responsible and affected parties. At least over the short-term and where population densities are low, poverty, political instability, social conflict, non-democratic regimes, smuggling of drugs and other contraband, and poor infrastructure will limit forestry activities to exploitation of the most valuable species but will also serve to protect forests from large-scale conversion because they increase financial...