Towards the saving of global rainforests

Rainforests are the Earth’s largest terrestrial carbon sinks and are rapidly shrinking due to unprecedented human impact, especially tropical rainforests, which host ~50% of global biodiversity. Understanding what makes rainforests resilient on a long-term basis is key to preserving global rainforests and their ecological services. 

For this study, Adeleye et al., used estimates of rates-of-change (RoC) in fossil pollen records, an indicator for temporal compositional change (turnover) in vegetation, to show that accelerating trends in global rainforest changes (increasing RoC/turnover) during the last 12,000 years were mainly driven by intensive agricultural practices, and the highly diverse and productive tropical rainforests were the most impacted. 

Management/conservation strategies aimed at the effective management of human impact will help promote rainforest health and diversity and increase resilience under projected climate change. This paper suggests sing the past as a guide to the future, as the palaeoecological results suggest that the future of global rainforests is largely dependent on the scale and nature of human impacts. Direct human impacts, especially pervasive agricultural practices, are capable of causing substantial, rapid and irreversible changes in ecosystems. On the other hand, the total exclusion of human influence (Indigenous/local management) may potentially result in the loss of community diversity (low turnover/beta diversity) and long-term fall in the productivity of rainforests.

Image Source: Martin Schoeller, National Geogrpahic

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