As tropical forest cover is eliminated, there appear to be—despite earlier supposition to the contrary—a number of significant repercussions for climatic regimes, whether at local, regional, or even global, levels. These are manifested through disruptions of hydrological systems and precipitation patterns, through changes in albedo and associated evapotranspiration rates, and through contributions to the ‘greenhouse effect’. Certain of these processes are well established scientifically, whereas others remain speculative pending urgently-needed research.
This exploratory paper reviews some of the ecological linkages at work in the above super-serious circumstances. Further, it assesses the profound consequences that may arise for major development sectors such as agriculture, energy, and human settlements. It concludes with a short appraisal of some policy responses available, though here again choices for adoption should be based on the results of far more scientific research and allied investigation than has yet resulted in reliable knowledge.