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Ecosystem Services and Tropical Forest Restoration


Understanding the fundamentals underlying forest ecology and the use of tropical forests has become indispensable to manage the provision of environmental services in a sustainable manner in highly fragmented landscapes. While in recent years valuable information has been generated in multiple research projects, it has not been effectively transmitted to the various bodies that influence the management of forests. In fact, within Panama and Latin America there is a great need for training opportunities to help guide informed decision making about the management, use and restoration of tropical forests. Since 2007, the Environmental Leadership and Training Initiative (ELTI) has been facilitating various conferences and training courses in order to provide different stakeholders with the knowledge and tools on how to conserve and restore forests and biodiversity in the tropical regions of Latin America and Asia.

This field-based course will take place at STRI’s Agua Salud Project research site, located in the Panama Canal Watershed. Research at Agua Salud seeks to understand and quantify the ecological, social and economic services provided by tropical forests in the Panama Canal Watershed undergoing different types of land use and the effects of climate change. Such ecosystem services play a central role in the operation of the Panama Canal and subsequently world commerce. Over a period of five days, the course aims to provide the technical basis necessary to design and implement restoration strategies to increase the provision of ecosystem services in different land uses. The course has been designed to convey advances in ecology and restoration of ecosystem services for professionals and technicians working in government institutions, NGOs and the private sector, through a series of presentations, discussion sessions and field based exercises. Foresters, agronomists, veterinarians as well as contractors, consultants and other working groups involved in land management projects, reforestation and natural resource management in Panama and other countries in Latin America are encouraged to apply.


Module 1. Basic forest ecology and the supply of environmental services

  • Introduction to tropical forests of Central America
  • Introduction to tropical forest dynamics, forest succession, and natural regeneration
  • Forest's goods and ecosystem services

Module 2. Limitations for restoration and the provision of environmental services      

  • Degradation of tropical forests and the associated characteristics
  • Ecological effects and consequences of degradation
  • Introduction to regional drivers of degradation

Module 3.  Strategies for the restoration of environmental services in human-modified landscapes

  • Importance of defining management goals and knowing site conditions when developing a restoration strategy
  • Principles and methods of forest restoration (active and passive)
  • Socio-economic factors that influence restoration