The tropical forest of the Maya Biosphere Preserve in Guatemala. Credit: Francisco Estrada-Belli The world’s tropical forests offer immense value to humanity, and the evidence of this is now overwhelming. Drugs derived from plants in tropical forests are used to treat cancer, diabetes and more. Trees sequester carbon, and the forests help to regulate regional and even global climate systems. One estimate of the ecosystem services these forests provide—the direct and indirect contributions they offer to human well-being—is more than $40 trillion dollars annually. That’s almost twice the $24 trillion in products that countries around the world produce each year. Yet, tropical forests continue to face incredible challenges. Some of those challenges and models to address them were the topic of a recent discussion as part of the Resilience Media Project , which is a part of the larger Initiative on Communication and Sustainability at the Earth Institute of Columbia University. In Central America, much of the threat to tropical forests comes from narco-trafficking. "An estimated 86 percent of cocaine reaches the US by moving through Central America," said Elizabeth Tellman. She’s a human-environmental geographer and researcher at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. According to her research and that of […]

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