The concept of forest degradation tends to be addressed in broad terms, and existing definitions are difficult to apply in practice. These definitions are based on a reduction in the production of ecosystem goods and services, but fail to address how, when and to what degree this reduction—which ultimately leads to degradation of a forest—occurs. Generally speaking, degradation is the result of a progressive decline in the structure, composition and functions upon which the vigor and RESILIENCE of a forest is based. A degraded forest is one whose structure, function, species composition, or productivity have been severely modified or permanently lost as a result of damaging human activities. So far, no guidelines have been developed for classification and evaluation of a degraded forest at the stand level, nor are there methodologies for assessing the degree of degradation found. The present work proposes stand-level guidelines for identification of a degraded forest according to a list of structural, compositional and regeneration criteria and characteristics. Emphasis is put on the need for local definitions of forest degradation, and identification of thresholds that determine the points where the processes of degradation finalize into degraded forests. Finally, the present work makes a call to move forwards in sustainable management in order to prevent degradation, and in implementation of restoration or rehabilitation practices in degraded forests.


  • A degraded forest is the result of a process of degradation which negatively affects the structural and functional characteristics of that forest

  • Forest degradation occurs as a result of human activities, which in turn are driven by a variety of macroeconomic, demographic, technological, institutional and political factors [1,2]

  • Forest degradation refers to situations involving long-term and severe environmental changes, and does not cover short-term changes or variability such as those associated with forest management for silvicultural purposes [6,10]

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A degraded forest is the result of a process of degradation which negatively affects the structural and functional characteristics of that forest. Sasaki and Putz [3] claim that given the need to reach agreements to address the challenges posed by climate change, the definition of forest degradation should take into account the full range of biophysical and social conditions under which forests develop, and the variety of ways in which they can degrade. This effort should be accompanied by parameters that may be monitored [6]. This contribution is based upon a review and discussion of literature concerning the degradation process which gives rise to this state

Loss of Resilience and the Degradation of Forests
What is a Degraded Forest?
Reference Forests
Degradation Indicators
Degradation Threshold
Principal of aa Degraded
Considerations for the Future

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