Westoby Lecture: Active Forestry to Improve the Fates of Tropical Forests

In this seminar, Claudia Romero and F.E. Jack Putz outline a series of options to make tropical natural forestry management both ecologically sound and economically viable.

One example they discuss is a carbon-enhancing silvicultural treatment that is leakage free and totally additional.

Romero and Putz also highlight some of the barriers to establishing these options:

  • A lack of public awareness of the societal benefits of well-managed natural forests

  • The fact that profits from natural forests are unlikely to match conversion to palm oil plantations, soybean fields or cattle pastures

  • The tendency to reply on market tools, like sustainable certifications and carbon offsets, to correct ecological damage


About the Speakers

Claudia Romero received her MSc (1998) and then PhD (2006) in forest ecology from the University of Florida where she first studied compatibility between timber and NTFPs in Costa Rica and then evolutionary responses of tree stems to damage as mediated by bark and wood characteristics. Before commencing her post-graduate training, her career spanned the public, private, and NGO sectors in her home country of Colombia. She directed a national park, managed a public-private partnership program to control industrial pollution, ran the Parks-in-Peril program (USAID and The Nature Conservancy) for Fundación Natura, and managed a commercial flower export operation. In 1993 she was an NGO representative to the Founding Assembly of the Forest Stewardship Council, contributed as a working group member to revise Principles 3 and 9 in 1994, and helped draft NTFP certification guidelines in 1996. Since receiving her PhD, Claudia transitioned from tropical ecologist to an evidence-based researcher focused on evaluation of the impacts of conservation interventions focused on tropical forests.


F.E. “Jack” Putz started trying to improve the fates of tropical forests in the 1970s and is still at it, despite making little progress. As an environmentalist, he’s odd insofar as he conducts research on forests exploited for timber with the goal of making management both ecologically sound and economically viable. To this end, his research on silviculture and forest operations is designed to promote market-based incentives including forest certification and carbon offsets. His other research interests span from ethnobotany and experimental archaeology to fire ecology and biomechanics. In addition to publishing science papers, nature essays, and editorials, Jack also wrote Borneo Dammed: A Very Family Affair, a steamy jungle novel published under the nom de plume of Juan Camilo Moro.