Conservation of tropical forests: maintaining ecological integrity and resilience
Lewis OT., Ewers RM., Lowman MD., Malhi Y.
While acknowledging the critical importance of maintaining large, core areas of tropical forests as free as possible from human interference, this chapter addresses the need for tropical forest conservation efforts in the wider tropical landscape, beyond the boundaries of strictly protected areas. It highlights the need to understand the resilience of tropical forests to anthropogenic perturbations, focusing on ecosystem-level processes, particularly food web changes, ecological cascades, and alterations to ecosystem functions. Next, it reviews empirical evidence for the resilience of tropical forests to different anthropogenic drivers, considers what humans can do to maximize resilience at various scales, and suggests that it may be possible to maintain tropical forest biodiversity by working within the bounds of 'natural' disturbances. Further, it suggests that conservation efforts in the wider tropical landscape may increasingly need to retain functioning and resilient ecosystems, rather than biodiversity per se. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.