The Center for Tropical Forest Science (CTFS) was established in 1990 by STRI, together with faculty members at Princeton and Harvard Universities, to improve our understanding of tropical forests by promoting long-term research in large permanent forest plots. The data obtained from our standardized studies of forest diversity and dynamics provides valuable information for helping to determine forest management and conservation strategies.
CTFS-Panama manages a 50-hectare permanent forest research plot on Barro Colorado Island (BCI), the first of many such Forest Dynamics Plots throughout Latin America , Asia , and Africa . This lowland forest plot is located on the summit of BCI on relatively uniform terrain, about a 35-minute hike from the BCI laboratories. Within this plot, every freestanding woody stem with a 1 cm diameter at breast height and above, is tagged, measured, mapped, and identified to the species level. The first census was completed between 1981 and 1983, with recensuses occurring every 5 years since.
More than 40 smaller forest plots and several inventory transects have been established throughout the Panama Canal watershed, especially along the canal, to study species distributions and how their composition changes with distance. A list of these species can be found in our evolving web site: http://www.ctfs.si.edu/.
The main offices of CTFS are located in the Tupper building in Ancon , Panama , where you can find our computer facilities, CTFS databases, and reprints of most of the CTFS-Panama articles. We also have an office at BCI, which houses most of the field equipment and data forms, and where all the field preparations for the censuses take place.