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Secondary forests associated with the rehabilitation of degraded lands in tropical Asia: a synthesis

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Rehabilitated secondary forests constitute a potential new and emerging resource requiring changes in policy favouring the rehabilitation of the large areas of degraded land in tropical Asia. Conversion of degraded lands into rehabilitated secondary forests rather than into monoculture plantations of exotics may be better for meeting the diverse product needs of local people, other stakeholders, and changing markets, as well as for environmental amelioration. It is also a relatively inexpensive method, suitable for rehabilitation by local people. Government and other stakeholder interest in and scope for rehabilitating degraded lands to secondary forest systems tend to increase along a proposed land use intensification model. Attempts to rehabilitate degraded lands in the intensive exploitation stage because of international pressures or funding availability are often not viable because the underlying socio economic and institutional causes of degradation may continue to operate. In the forest depleted stage, the biophysical and socio economic situation is more ripe for policy changes and implementation favouring rehabilitated secondary forests. The driving forces behind the rehabilitation efforts tend to shift from large scale timber production to local livelihood, more diverse local market and environmental needs coinciding with the depletion of forest resources. However, the development of rehabilitated secondary forests may still be constrained by degraded site conditions, the persistence of chronic disturbances and lack of incentives. Rising international and national commitment to biodiversity conservation, community based management, forest rehabilitation, timber certification and climate stabilisation could as well focus more on secondary forest regeneration and management in protected areas and as community forests, serving both conservation and production goals.

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