Secondary Forests Research Network

2ndFOR is a collaborative research network focusing on understanding the ecology, dynamics, and biodiversity of tropical secondary forests and the ecosystem services they provide in human-modified tropical landscapes.

2ndFOR publishes new study

Wet and dry tropical forests show opposite successional pathways in wood density but converge over time.

2019. Nature Ecology and Evolution

During succession the vegetation gradually builds up, leading to changes in environmental conditions at the forest floor, and because species differ in their growing strategies this leads to shifts in species composition over time. Understanding how succession works is crucial to improve forest restoration initiatives and to select the best species for planting.

To evaluate successional changes in wood density, the 2ndFOR research team analysed forest recovery at an unprecedented spatial scale, using original data from 50 sites, 1,400 plots and >16,000 trees from tropical forests across Latin America.

Read our brief on the study


Picture by R. Chazdon

Secondary forests

are forests that regrow naturally after nearly complete removal of forest cover for anthropogenic use (usually for shifting cultivation, conventional cropping or cattle ranching). Currently over half of the world’s tropical forests are not old-growth, but naturally regenerating forests of which a large part is secondary forest. In tropical Latin America, secondary forests cover as much as 28% of the land area.

Picture by F. Bongers

Tropical forests are home to more than 53,000 tree species, accounting for 96% of global tree diversity. These hyperdiverse forests are threatened by high levels of deforestation, mostly driven by agricultural expansion. Once agricultural fields are abandoned, they can be rapidly colonized by naturally regrowing forests, which are called “secondary forests”. Could these regrowing forests help reverse species loss and bring native species back?

Read our brief on the study published on march 2019 in the journal Science Advances

Watch the video made by IIES, Mexico, on our study Biomass resilience of Neotropical secondary forests published in the scientific journal NATURE in 2016