Threatened tropical moist forest habitats


The loss of tropical moist forest will bring about changes in the composition of the earth's atmosphere with consequences for climate and the earth's food producing capacity. For the people who live and depend on the tropical moist forest, its disappearance has devastating consequences. This may include those that live thousands of kilometres away, who may be affected by floods, land slides etc. intensified by deforestation.

Tropical moist forest is being lost through indiscriminate logging practices and is being converted into farmland. This conversion is often not sustainable due to the nature of the underlying soils and the rapid nutrient recycling that occurs in the tropical moist forest. Nutrients are lost once the vegetation is removed. Traditional systems of using unpromising forest soils are breaking down as people are compressed into smaller areas and are denied access to land. Forest fallows are declining and people are forced to grow cash crops that are destructive to the soil.

Dispossesed people moving into the forests are not shifting cultivators but rather "shifted cultivators" that have experience and traditions of different methods that are not adapted to the forest and are destructive. Government supported transmigration programmes to settle forest areas exacerbate the problem while avoiding the issue of land redistribution in more favourable areas.


According to Holdridge's system of ecological zones, tropical moist forest has a mean annual temperature of 24 or more øC and an average annual rainfall of 2,000-4,000 mm.

Tropical moist forest is not a very satisfactory term but it has a widespread acceptance. The term includes the closed high forests lying in the tropical belt. Closed refers to the fact that the canopy covers at least 20 percent of the land surface. Tropical moist forest includes both wet forest formations, monsoon forests, mountain rain and cloud forests and mangroves. Nearly all these forests consist of broadleaved species with coniferous species accounting for less than 3 percent.

Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 15: Life on Land
Problem Type:
D: Detailed problems
Date of last update
21.05.2019 – 18:00 CEST