Tropical forests are forested landscapes in tropical regions: i.e. land areas approximately bounded by the tropic of Cancer and Capricorn, but possibly affected by other factors such as prevailing winds.
Some categories of tropical forest types are difficult. While forests in temperate areas are readily categorised on the basis of tree canopy density, such schemes do not work well in tropical forests. There is no single scheme that defines what a forest is, in tropical regions or elsewhere. Because of these difficulties, information on the extent of tropical forests varies between sources. However, Tropical Forests are extensive, making up just under half the world’s forests.
More than 3.6m hectares of virgin tropical forest was lost in 2018.
A number of tropical forests have been designated High-Biodiversity Wilderness Areas, but remain subject to a wide range of disturbances, both natural and anthropogenic. All tropical forests have experienced at least some levels of disturbance.
A study in Borneo describes how, between 1973 and 2018, the old-growth forest had been reduced from 76% to 50% of the island, mostly due to fire and agricultural expansion. A widely-held view is that placing a value on the ecosystem services these forests provide may bring about more sustainable policies. However, clear monitoring and evaluation mechanisms for environmental, social and economic outcomes are needed. For example, a study in Vietnam indicated that poor and inconsistent data combined with a lack of human resources and political interest (thus lack of financial support) are hampering efforts to improve forest land allocation and a Payments for Forest Environmental Services scheme.
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^ abAnatoly Shvidenko, Charles Victor Barber, Reidar Persson et al. 2005 "Millennium ecosystem assessment." Ecosystems and human wellbeing: a framework for assessment Washington, DC: Island Press
^ D’Annunzio, Rémi, Lindquist, Erik J., MacDicken, Kenneth G. 2017 “Global forest land-use change from 1990 to 2010:an update to a global remote sensing survey of forests Forest Resource Assessment Working Paper 187” FAO, Rome.
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