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The context and challenges relating to the remaining tropical rainforest are briefly reviewed and the roles which science can play in addressing questions are outlined. Key messages which articles in the special issue, mainly based on projects of the Royal Society South East Asia Rainforest Research Programme (SEARRP), have raised of relevance to policies on land use, land management and REDD+ are then considered. Results from the atmospheric science and hydrology papers, and some of the ecological ones, demonstrate the very high ecosystem service values of rainforest (compared with oil palm) in maintaining high biodiversity, good local air quality, reducing greenhouse emissions, and reducing landslide, flooding and sedimentation consequences of climate change-and hence provide science to underpin the protection of remaining forest, even if degraded and fragmented. Another group of articles test ways of restoring forest quality (in terms of biodiversity and carbon value) or maintaining as high biodiversity and ecological functioning levels as possible via intelligent design of forest zones and fragments within oil palm landscapes. Finally, factors that have helped to enhance the policy relevance of SEARRP projects and dissemination of their results to decision-makers are outlined.

Original publication




Journal article


Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci

Publication Date





3354 - 3358


Air Pollution, Arecaceae, Atmosphere, Biodiversity, Climate, Climate Change, Conservation of Natural Resources, Environmental Monitoring, Environmental Policy, Geological Phenomena, Program Development, Trees