Management of Tropical Forests

Systems of natural forest management take advantage of natural ecosystem functions to maintain their productivity and sustain their reproduction. Management techniques include light selective harvest, where the basic structure and function of the forest are left intact. Silvicultural treatments such as girdling unwanted stems may be included, but care must be taken not to destroy the habitat of pollinators and other groups essential for forest functioning. Methods of natural forest management also include cutting of all trees of commercial size, provided that adequate reproduction has been established. Intensive cutting works best with secondary forests that become established in abandoned agricultural areas, or areas of primary forest that have been heavily logged. Improved management techniques such as reduced impact logging and sustainable forest management, in combination with certification of methods of logging, can help slow down the rate of tropical deforestation.

Forest management must also consider activities directed towards the extraction of non-timber forest products (NTFP). Specific guidelines for management for NTFP are needed to ensure that NTFP resources are not over-exploited.

Management for conservation of biological diversity is best achieved through minimum disturbance of the forest. If the objective is to save species, the approach should be to conserve and protect forest habitats, thus favoring the successful reproduction and maintenance of plant and animal species.

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