Relevance of secondary tropical forest for landscape restoration

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Tropical Secondary Forests (SFs) are vulnerable forest systems growing in areas that have been subject to unsustainable human activities leading to deforestation. SFs account for swathes of tropical forest landscapes that have lost their capacity to provide a high level of goods and services. They are also located in highly dynamic and human-pressured landscapes and are vulnerable to natural and human-induced catastrophic events, such as hurricanes or fires. Without appropriate silvicultural management to increase their economic value and restore their ecological functions, they often become degraded and are sometimes cleared for more short-term economically productive activities. Given the increasing demand for tropical timber in recent decades that will continue in the near future, we suggest that active restoration geared towards wood production is an opportunity for SF conservation. Promoting sustainable wood production -i.e. associated with other environmental services- in these disturbed forest ecosystems is also a way to reduce logging pressure on the remaining intact primary tropical forests, indeed, this may be the most important reason to enhance active restoration aimed at wood production in tropical SFs worldwide. Future research in forest ecology and management should produce experimental evidence of enhanced production of wood and ecosystem services in SFs through appropriate silvicultural experimentations.

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