To conserve forests, we need to think beyond current ideas of integration or segregation

Deforestation has historically been the price of development, but the world is now going through a forest transition; since 2015, there has been net global reforestation.

The pace and quality of this transition is mixed. In the world's remaining high conservation-value forests, deforestation rates are high and poverty persists but development opportunities are within sight.

These forests are mainly located in the tropical developing world and have growing human populations. Because as forest-dependent people are increasingly involved in cash economies , they use their forests to participate in markets. This will inevitably lead to changes in forests.

But can these transitions be nurtured so that future forest landscapes deliver the biodiversity and ecosystem benefits that societies need or desire?

It's not that the world's remaining forests are pristine and untouched. Humans have shaped and domesticated the remote Amazonian and Bornean and Congo Basin forests for millennia; all forests are the result of human actions.

But as development pressures and the rate of globalisation increase, and as market and cash economies spread, changes in forests are intensifying. Forest clearance and disturbance has seen biodiversity decline and ecosystems suffer.

Conservationists typically respond to this in one of two ways. They either tackle the threat head on and try to counter it (classic threat-based conservation). Or they hand over forest management to local people (community-based forestry).

João André O. Dias


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