The most important ecological characteristics of tropical forests to be considered in management are:
• high diversity of tree species
• high frequency of cross-pollination
• common occurrence of mutualisms
• high rate of energy flow through primary producers, consumers, and decomposers
• a relatively "tight" nutrient cycle.
Logging, as well as other types of forest disturbance brought about by management, seriously affects these characteristics and can threaten the ability of a tropical site to regenerate a forest. It is for this reason that tropical forests are often considered fragile (Farnworth and Golley 1974). However, there are means of managing tropical forest that are less disruptive to the forest structure and function. Some techniques for managing tropical forest lands, such as agroforestry, even take advantage of nutrient cycling characteristics of the natural forests of the areas where they are practiced. Management techniques that take into consideration these characteristics of tropical forests are reviewed in Chapters 5 and 6.
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