The Need for an Integrated Approach to Forest Conservation and Management

Tropical forestry is confronted today with the task of finding strategies to alleviate pressure on remaining forests and techniques to enhance forest regeneration and restore abandoned lands. In addition, sustainable forestry in tropical countries must be supported by local and/or international policies adequate to promote and maintain specific activities at local and regional scales. Any efforts to manage, conserve, or restore tropical forests must be compatible with local livelihood needs and offer sustainable and economically attractive alternatives to local people. Strategies that provide various ecosystem services and fulfill local human needs, in addition to promoting the conservation of forest resources, will have a higher chance of success. Understanding the variety of ecosystem products and services of forests is therefore essential for the design of adequate conservation and management strategies, as well as for the development and maintenance of the policies that sustain them.

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In conclusion, environmental and social services of tropical forests are as important or more important than activities that degrade the forest structure such as heavy logging or excessive ecotourism. In order to manage the forest to sustain environmental and social services, we must understand the ecology of the tropical forest, in other words, how it works. The understanding of the ecology of tropical forests is essential for designing adequate strategies for forest conservation and management.

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