The Potential for Species Conservation in Tropical Secondary Forests

The Potential for Species Conservation in Tropical Secondary Forests


The importance of tropical secondary forests for conserving biodiversity increases with the degradation of old-growth forests, yet little is known about the role that these forests play in promoting biodiversity. Geospatial and temporal factors influence the role of secondary forests in species conservation, and this synthesis of case studies evaluates the significance of these factors on regional and landscape scales.

Research goals & Methods

This study synthesizes the findings of 26 case studies on secodary tropical forests across the globe. Forest age, number of old growth species, proportion of old growth species, and land use prior to abandonment demonstrated the ability of secondary forests to function as a species conservation "safety net" across different landscapes.

Conclusions & takeaways

Conservation policies should recognize the role of secondary and nonpristine forests in promoting species diversity. This includes secondary forests of all ages, but older secondary forests in close proximity to old-growth forests should be a conservation priority because of their immediate benefits to biodiversity. The expansion of secondary forest conservation buffer zones surrounding old-growth forests also promises major benefits to species diversity and conservation efficiency.



Chazdon RL, Peres CA, DENT DAISY, et al. The Potential for Species Conservation in Tropical Secondary Forests. Conservation Biology. 2009;23:1406–1417. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2009.01338.x.


  • Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, USA