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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

What Is Secondary about Secondary Tropical Forest? Rethinking Forest Landscapes

Pain, Adam; Marquardt, Kristina; Lindh, Arvid; Hasselquist, Niles J.


Forests have long been locations of contestation between people and state bureaucracies, and among the knowledge frameworks of local users, foresters, ecologists, and conservationists. An essential framing of the debate has been between the categories of primary and secondary forest. In this introduction to a collection of papers that address the questions of what basis, in what sense, and for whom primary forest is 'primary' and secondary forest is 'secondary,' and whether these are useful distinctions, we outline this debate and propose a new conceptual model that departs from the simple binary of primary and secondary forests. Rather, we propose that attention should be given to the nature of the disturbance that may alter forest ecology, the forms of regeneration that follow, and the governance context within which this takes place.


Secondary forest; Forest landscapes; Disturbance; Regeneration; Public authority; Subsistence livelihoods

Published in

Human Ecology
2020, Volume: 49, number: 3, pages: 239-247