Chazdon, RL Tropical forest recovery: legacies of human impact and natural disturbances. PERSPECTIVES IN PLANT ECOLOGY EVOLUTION AND SYSTEMATICS, 6 (1-2): 51-71 2003
This paper presents a succinct and informative overview of the recovery of tropical forest ecosystems after disturbance events. It condenses an exhaustive review of the past 30+ years of forest recovery research. The author does an excellent job of highlighting critical components of forest recovery, such as the effects of remnant vegetation and soil disturbance. The paper also compares forest recovery following various types of human impact: post-agricultural, shifting cultivation, and logging. I found this comparison valuable in that it can identify areas that will have future restoration needs, and help to focus funding in what are typically poor regions. Similar to our discussion in class last wednesday, the myth that tropical forests were virgin ecosystems prior to colonization is debunked, and the paper documents extensive use by early peoples in almost all tropical forests around the world. The author also discusses how anthropogenic disturbance of the forest affects the way the forest recovers after a natural disturbance event such as hurricanes, floods, etc. Given the massive scale of disturbances in tropical forests, in comparison with the parity of recovery efforts being undertaken, I think this paper is highly relevant to anyone working in tropical regions of the world, and simply an interesting read.
Photo: Forests of the Fouta Djallon highlands of Guinea-Conakry. Personal photo.