|What is ForestGEO?
ForestGEO, the Smithsonian Institution’s Forest Global Earth Observatories, had its origins in 1980 with the establishment of a 50-hectare plot on Panama’s Barro Colorado Island. It was designed to understand why tropical rainforests are so biologically diverse, and why so many of the species are rare.
How do forests store water and control runoff?
How much carbon do forests store and how will they respond to rising atmospheric CO2?
How are plants in the forest pollinated and their seeds dispersed?
What is the value of all these ecosystem services?
ForestGEO data allow researchers to track the impact of regional disturbance events, global climate events such as El Niño, and long-term climate change on forest ecosystems. The sites contain an astonishing diversity of species, allowing scientists to examine the dynamics of entire populations of trees and animals, and their interactions. The findings can inform policy decisions for the sustainable management of forests and their resources.
ForestGEO’s data also serve as an early warning system for changes in global ecosystems as a result of global climate change and other factors. Scientists use the same protocols at all sites, allowing the network to produce a unified database for comparisons of forest dynamics and diversity at a global scale.
In a world of climate change, exploding human population, rising atmospheric carbon, and dramatic shifts in land use, ForestGEO is in a special position to answer pressing questions of our times.