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1 - Setting the stage

from Part I - General perspectives

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 May 2011

F.N. Scatena
Affiliation:
University of Pennsylvania, USA
L.A. Bruijnzeel
Affiliation:
VU University, the Netherlands
P. Bubb
Affiliation:
UNEP – World Conservation Monitoring Centre, UK
S. Das
Affiliation:
UNEP – World Conservation Monitoring Centre, UK
L. A. Bruijnzeel
Affiliation:
Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
F. N. Scatena
Affiliation:
University of Pennsylvania
L. S. Hamilton
Affiliation:
Cornell University, New York
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Summary

BACKGROUND

The cloudy, wet, and generally difficult terrain of the world's Tropical Montane Cloud Forests (TMCF) has not only made them hydrologically and ecologically unique, but has historically given them some de facto protection compared to other tropical forests. In the late 1970s and early 1980s it became apparent that this de facto protection was diminishing and that TMCF in many parts of the world were rapidly becoming converted or fragmented and in need of protection (LaBastille and Pool, 1978; White, 1983; Stadtmüller, 1987). Indeed, by the early 1990s it was clear that TMCF were high on the list of the world's most threatened terrestrial ecosystems. Moreover, during the period 1981–1990, montane forests were being lost at a rate considerably greater than that estimated for lowland tropical forests (1.1% year−1 vs. 0.8% year−1, respectively; Doumenge et al., 1995). It was also being recognized that the scientific information needed to manage and protect these unique but vulnerable ecosystems was generally lacking (Stadtmüller, 1987).

In response to this information need, an international Symposium on TMCF was held in San Juan, Puerto Rico between 31 May and 5 June 1993. The meeting resulted in a 27-chapter book on the world's TMCFs (Hamilton et al., 1995), which included overview chapters on the hydrology and nutrient dynamics of TMCF (Bruijnzeel and Proctor, 1995) and the importance of TMCF for endemic and threatened birds (Long, 1995), as well as the first in-depth description of guidelines for managing and valuing an especially vulnerable type of TMCF – elfin cloud forest (Scatena, 1995) – and useful summary descriptions of the biogeography of TMCF in widely different settings, including a host of Pacific islands, Sri Lanka, NE Borneo, Mexico, SE Brazil, NW Argentina, and Perú.

Type
Chapter
Information
Tropical Montane Cloud Forests
Science for Conservation and Management
, pp. 3 - 13
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2011

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