Charles M. Peters

Tropical rain forests contain an incredible diversity of useful plant species. Very little is known about the regeneration, growth, and productivity of these wild plants, their market value, or their potential for sustainable exploitation and management. My research attempts to provide this type of information by focusing on the ecology and economics of promising tropical forest resources.

My studies have taken me to two of the largest, and least explored, tropical forest regions in the world -- Amazonia and Borneo. I spent three years in the lowland forests of Peru collecting and documenting the distribution, fruiting phenology, and use of over 100 different forest fruit trees. During the course of this fieldwork, I observed that many valuable fruit species occur naturally in almost monospecific stands. Detailed ecological analysis revealed that the density and productivity of these plant communities are superior to those of many plantations.

An additional study conducted in Peru assessed the economic value of the plant resources growing in a small tract of species-rich forest. The results from this study, done in collaboration with botanists and economists, showed that sustainable forest exploitation could actually yield higher net revenues than more destructive forms of land-use such as logging or conversion to cattle pastures.

Since 1990, I have been conducting ecological studies on the native fruits and oilseeds of Borneo. My current research focuses on the development of sustainable management plans for a 130,000 hectare community forest reserve in West Kalimantan, Indonesia.

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Selected Publications