What is it about?

Using the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems criteria, the global standard for assessing the risk of ecosystem collapse, the paper showcases a continental assessment of 136 types of tropical and temperate forest ecosystems in the Americas region (from North to South America, including the Caribbean). Twelve forest types are considered Critically Endangered (CR), the highest category of risk. Six of these are located in biodiversity hotspots in Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador, with other forest types located in less diverse regions of the continent. For this research, we considered six indicators that evaluate the spatial and functional symptoms of collapse, across three time frames (historical, present and future). Findings show that most forest types are threatened by declines in distribution (e.g. deforestation and land use change), but degradation and functional decline are equally or more relevant for 40% of them. Some American forest ecosystems are threatened by historical land uses that are no longer active, while a similar number are threatened by emerging changes in land use or climate. Others, including the Tropical Seasonally Dry Forests have a long and ongoing trajectory of decline driven by multiple threats.

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Why is it important?

This is the first systematic ecosystem risk assessment that integrates multiple threatening processes at continental scale, and the first to couple risk assessment with a scenario analysis to identify cost-effective options for conservation action to reduce the risks


Based on our findings, the risk of collapse of forest in the Americas is widespread and affects all regions of the continent. All countries are and will face important conservation challenges. Our approach provides the necessary tools for estimating optimal conservation strategies as a trade-off between potential benefits and costs

Dr. Jose R. Ferrer-Paris
University of New South Wales

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: An ecosystem risk assessment of temperate and tropical forests of the Americas with an outlook on future conservation strategies, Conservation Letters, January 2019, Wiley,
DOI: 10.1111/conl.12623.
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