Friday, August 8, 2008 - 9:50 AM

SYMP 22-4: Building scientific and technical capacity to assess and reduce tropical deforestation

Dana Roth, U.S. Forest Service


Most people believe that tropical deforestation contributes significantly to climate change.  We can safely assert that tropical deforestation and habitat degradation, combined with a seeming increase in severity and frequency of natural disasters, and sometimes drier (for example, in the Caribbean) or wetter conditions, are increasingly threatening the well-being and livelihoods of people who live near forests and/or depend on natural resources.  


There is an important role for ecologists and other scientists to play in helping build capacity overseas in a number of different areas related to deforestation and climate change.  These could include better management of forests overall, including through integrated natural resource management; application of knowledge of the role of managed forests (e.g., plantations or restored forest), and agroforestry systems in the carbon cycle and biodiversity conservation, and practical recommendations; and improving capability to predict and respond to different disaster scenarios at the local, national and international scales.  Using two or three case studies from Mesoamerica and Caribbean, I hope to show how collaboration on forest inventory, monitoring and analysis and on fire and disaster preparedness has helped build local capacity and leadership in the countries where we work.  I also hope to highlight some additional areas where targeted scientific and technical cooperation could help improve natural resource management in the region.