Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Oil & Opportunity

Sidebar: Tracking the Trees

SCBI scientist Alfonso Alonso says one of the Gabon Biodiversity Program’s most critical projects is to understand forest dynamics and regeneration under natural and human-induced management in a representative forest in southwestern Gabon. This will be accomplished by establishing a 25-hectare forest monitoring plot.

The plot will become one of 40 international sites studied by the Smithsonian Institution Global Earth Observatory. The sites monitor forest dynamics around the world and help scientists track the impact of climate change on biodiversity and forest functions. “Every tree as thick as a pencil or larger will be measured and placed on a map for monitoring purposes,” explains Alonso. “For Gabon, that’s an estimated 250,000 trees.”

"This information will provide a platform for a global carbon-research program that will help us learn how the forest is changing in response to rising atmospheric CO2. The plot will also provide an opportunity for capacity building by integrating research and teaching into experiential training.”


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Smithsonian Zoogoer 39(6) 2010. Copyright 2010 Friends of the National Zoo. All rights reserved.