Research Agenda

TROPI-DRY is a collaborative research network sponsored by the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI) under their Collaborative Research Network (CRN-2) program.

TROPI-DRY’s goal is to bring together researchers in conservation biology, ecology and evolution, remote sensing and geographic information systems, sociology, anthropology, policy analysis, and forestry to develop a comprehensive, “state of the art” understanding of the status of tropical dry forests (primary and secondary) in the Americas.

TROPI-DRY incorporates researchers and institutions from Canada, United States of America, Mexico, Costa Rica, Venezuela and Brazil.

TROPI-DRY research focuses on developing a common multidisciplinary strategy in collaboration with local and national policy making organizations in order to produce comprehensive and comparative land use/policy studies in tropical dry regions in the natural and social sciences.

From the natural sciences perspective, TROPI-DRY works towards the development of a comprehensive and standardized protocol for recognizin g and comparing tropical dry forest successional stages and some key faunal groups associated with these stages. This characterization will enable a first assessment of the structure and composition of existing tropical dry forests in the Americas. Secondary successional stages are likely to be the most frequent state of tropical dry forests in the next decades, but at present no standardized method exists to assess their status, complexity and relative value to society or how these forests can be monitored using remote sensing.

From the social sciences perspective, TROPI-DRY seeks to develop innovation linkages between governments, scientists, and communities. While many traditional ecological research approaches focus solely on the natural world, researchers are increasingly recognizing the importance of incorporating the human dimension of forest use as a key component for understanding forest management. In TROPI-DRY, each study site is directly linked to both a local community of forest users and a cohort of decision-makers and policy experts. The knowledge of these groups of people forms a key component of our research. By incorporating their views, perspectives and knowledge, we seek to integrate both lay and expert approaches to environmental management.

Together these two efforts will provide a robust data set integrating expert and lay perspectives with developing scientific knowledge. At the integration level (natural and social science to policy making) researchers work closely with key policymakers and institutions at the national and local levels. Integration therefore is a key element of the work conducted by TROPI-DRY. One of our key goals is to facilitate interaction and knowledge transfer between and amongst scientists, policymakers, and the public.