Living Reference Work Entry

Tropical Forestry Handbook

pp 1-28

Date: Latest Version

A 21st Century Viewpoint on Natural Tropical Forest Silviculture

  • Bryan FineganAffiliated withProduction and Conservation in Forests Programme, CATIE Email author 


Silviculture in natural tropical forests can be defined as the objective guidance of the forest ecosystem to sustainably meet the needs of society (based on Lamprecht 1993). It is a component, not a synonym, of sustainable forest management. In this chapter, I will set out a vision of natural tropical forest silviculture (from here on, SNTF) in relation to two factors: first, the considerable volume of scientific information generated on natural tropical forests during the 20 years since the publication of Lamprecht’s review, and second, the challenges of the twenty-first century and the new frameworks within which society expects SNTF to be carried out. These frameworks include those that are directly relevant, such as the principles and criteria of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). But the conservation and sustainable use of all ecosystems in a framework centered around the needs of people have also been conceptualized in major advances like that of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA 2005). Additionally, by the end of 2015, governments led by the United Nations will have set out their Sustainable Development Goals and, under the auspices of the UNFCCC, will finalize the successor to the Kyoto Protocol in the continuing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the consequent climate change. All these international processes can be thought of as key elements of the UNEP-led Green Economy Initiative, which seeks a low-carbon, resource efficient, and socially inclusive path for economic development; in all of them, SNTF can play a potentially important role; and all of them may influence the ways in which SNTF can be implemented.


Tropical forest Sustainable forest management Global change Tree growth Timber Biodiversity Climate change mitigation