Balancing Conservation and Development in the Tropics

, Monday, 23 Aug 2010


Patrice Levang of CIFOR presenting his research on land encroachment on an Indonesian  national park

Patrice Levang of CIFOR presenting his research on land encroachment on an Indonesian national park


By Angela Dewan

The world is looking for ways to reduce carbon emissions, alleviate poverty, feed a booming population and continue economic growth at the same time. As aspirations to achieve these goals intensify, so too does pressure on forests.

Among the most threatened are tropical forests, with different sectors competing for their share. Environmentalists want to protect them to sequester carbon; palm oil and paper companies want to grow plantations on them; scientists are looking at how to adapt them to new climates; and communities want to use them for livelihoods.

Scientists and policy-makers are working hard to collaborate on ways to allow economic development alongside forest conservation. The idea that they can go hand-in-hand is a positive one, but in reality, it is not always that simple, according to one scientist. In a session titled “Improving livelihoods through research and action in biodiversity-rich tropical forest landscapes”, Patrice Levang, a scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research, said that in one particular national park on Sumatra Island in Indonesia, government’s will have to carefully consider whether the economic gains from small coffee farms is worth the loss of forest.


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