Bosques Secundarios Como Recurso para el Desarrollo Rural y la Conservación Ambiental en los Tropicos de América Latina

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1997

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"Recent data show that destruction of primary forests has been accompanied by expansion in secondary forests. Studies also show that secondary forests are capable of providing some of the economic and ecological services of primary forests. This has led to a new strategy of increasing the value of secondary forests to farmers and cattle ranchers with the aim of inducing them to conserve these forests indefinitely or to at least delay reconversion to other uses. The objective of this paper is to contribute to a coherent strategy for realising the potential of secondary forests. We hypothesise that substantial areas of secondary forest exist on the farms of small and large land holders and that technical and political interventions can significantly increase the area and economic and environmental value of secondary forests and therefore the period for which they are conserved. We also hypothesise that secondary forests are highly variable in their ecological characteristics and also in the objectives and resources of their owners. Therefore the interventions required are likely to be highly variable. An analysis of the dynamics of secondary forests can help target interventions to those areas with the highest probability of impact. "We define secondary forests as 'woody vegetation of a successional character which develops in areas whose original vegetation has been removed as a result of human intervention'. The area in secondary forest in Latin America is estimated by FAO to be around 165 million ha. Studies have shown that growth rates of fast-growing timber species in secondary forests are comparable to growth rates attained in plantations. Secondary forests also accumulate biomass rapidly in the first 20-30 years and thus provide ecological services such as carbon sequestration and watershed protection. Vegetation studies in degraded and non-degraded areas have identified successional phases which differ in structure and floristic composition. Factors that determine the variability of secondary forests have been identified as prior land use, soil characteristics and proximity to seed sources."

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CIFOR, forests--tropics, rural affairs, conservation, deforestation, socio-economic systems

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