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Restoring Resilient Tropical Forests

Take a virtual trip to Central and South America and discover why healthy tropical forests are our climate allies, how tree species diversity regulates forest regrowth following disturbance, and science-based recipes for reforestation success.

Tropical forests trap carbon dioxide in their wood and soils, preventing this harmful greenhouse gas from warming the atmosphere. Globally, 70% of the forest carbon sink is in the tropics. However, these crucial ecosystems are under threat due to agriculture, mining, development, and climate change. As tropical forests are destroyed, so is their ability to absorb carbon and support wildlife. To counter these effects, reforestation projects are underway.

In this Cary Science Conversation, tropical forest ecologist Sarah Batterman will discuss how we can support recovering tropical forests that store more carbon, enhance biodiversity, and are resilient to future climate conditions. Discover how certain tree species can boost the speed of forest recovery and fertilize their neighbors with the help of bacteria partners hidden in their roots. Learn about the role of nutrients in forest health and regrowth, how organisms living in forest ecosystems help each other thrive, and how the right ‘mix’ of trees in recovering forests can promote forest growth and diversity.
Sarah Batterman seeks to understand how tropical forest ecosystems can help offset carbon emissions and slow climate change. Batterman uses large-scale ecosystem experiments, field observations, and modeling to understand how tropical trees, their microbial partners, and nutrients impact tropical rainforest recovery from disturbance, response to environmental change, and ability to trap carbon. This understanding can inform policy makers and natural resource managers about potential carbon offsets in the tropics, and how to recover tropical forests to combat climate change. 


Nitrogen-fixing trees help tropical forests grow faster and store more carbon

Levy-Varon, J.H., Batterman, S.A., Medvigy, D. et al. Tropical carbon sink accelerated by symbiotic dinitrogen fixation. Nat Commun 10, 5637 (2019).


Restoring Resilient Tropical Forests presentation (.pdf)

Global Carbon Budget
Global Carbon Budget
Forest carbon cycle
Forest carbon cycle
Nitrogen fixation
Nitrogen fixation.


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