Key facets include deforestation driven by agricultural expansion, timber and wood extraction, the loss of fauna that maintain critical ecological connections, the spread of fire, landscape fragmentation, the spread of second-growth forests, new species invasion and pathogen spread, increasing CO2, and climate change.
The patterns of change are spatially heterogeneous, are often characterized by strong interactions among different drivers, can have both large-scale and remote effects, and can play out through ecological cascades over long timescales. As a consequence, most tropical forests are on a trajectory to becoming altered ecosystems, with the degree of alteration dependent on the intensity and duration of the current bottleneck of human-induced pressures.
The authors highlight the importance of this understanding to develop the strategies necessary for shaping the transition of tropical forests through the early Anthropocene, and also highlight the opportunities and challenges for the tropical forest science community in the coming decades.
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