Do we need new management paradigms to achieve sustainability in tropical forests?
Guest Editors: Robert Nasi
by Robert Nasi CIFOR (Center for International Forestry Research) CIRAD (Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement)
Tropical forests represent about 51% of the world’s forest and the most biodiversity rich terrestrial ecosystem on Earth. Yet they are undergoing unprecedented pressure as population and demand for new agricultural land, forest products and ecosystem services increase. At the same time, one could not help to notice that forest management methods or prescriptions have only marginally evolved from the beginning of the industrialization in the 60s. New powerful tools like GIS and remote-sensing imagery are available and used, reduced impact logging guidelines are proposed almost everywhere in the tropical realm but the basic tenets of forest management have not really changed and are still largely based on European models ‘exported’ to the tropics in the 50s. These old management paradigms are now contested by various groups and for several reasons: (a) existing management plans are based on unrealistic technical prescriptions hindering their adoption or implementation by a large part of the operators in the tropics, (b) most of the existing management models seem to be viable only for large concessions in unlogged forests whereas there is an increasing number of small to medium scale enterprises working in secondary or logged-over forests, (c) the very idea of natural forest management as a way to achieve sustainability is strongly criticized by several actors proposing new alternatives like conservation concessions, direct payment for environmental services, etc., (d) at the same time the concepts of integrated natural resource management, ecosystem approach, and ecosystem management are gaining in strength.
This special issue, developed from a technical session of the IUFRO World Congress 2005, will contribute to new management paradigms for tropical forests based on the experience of three of the most active research organizations in the field for the last decade. Contributors will bring elements to answer critiques of existing paradigms as well as propositions for new approaches and new research directions.