Report sheds light on a massive, neglected ecosystem

24 June 2014

BOGOR, Indonesia — Few words are as evocative as “rainforest” — wild, mysterious, valuable beyond price and worthy of the rallying cries to save it.

Considerably less common is the expression, “Save the tropical dry forest!”

Pity the tropical dry forest. These forests — so-called because of their long dry periods — make up nearly half the world’s tropical forests and support people and iconic wildlife, just as their humid counterparts do. But they have yet to capture the attention of the public or policymakers as the world’s rainforests have, putting them at risk of mismanagement and overexploitation.

A new report could help to change that, laying out what is and is not known about tropical dry forests, and prescribing further research about an ecosystem for which a widely agreed-upon definition does not even exist.

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