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Defending Tropical Dry Forests at UN Meeting

A Canadian scientist plans to warn the world's policy-makers they can no longer ignore that the effects of climate change on a type of tropical forest are already forcing mass migrations of people.

"The tropics are not just the Amazon," said Arturo Sanchez, who has been invited to appear this week before a United-Nations-sponsored climate change meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, to speak about the tropical dry forests of Central America.

The lush green carpet of the Amazonian basin is what leaps to mind when tropical forests are mentioned. But Sanchez says the dry forests — where torrential rainy seasons alternate with a long arid season — are the most endangered forest ecosystem in the tropics.

"Right now, only 40 per cent of the original extent remains," Sanchez said.

Much of the problem stems from centuries of exploitation. Soils in such forests are among the most fertile in the region and much vegetation has been plowed under.

Daniel Tiveau/CIFOR

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