Tropical forest management and policy decisions are hampered by lack of reliable information about forest responses to timber harvesting and other silvicultural interventions. Although the necessary raw data from permanent sample plots (PSPs) mostly exist, the relevant results are generally unavailable due to lack of analytical capacities within data-holding institutions or lack of incentives to make the results available. Where analytical deficiency is the bottleneck, collaborative data-sharing agreements that go beyond the outsourcing of data-analysis to third parties can provide equitable and effective short- and long-term options. Simply outsourcing PSP data analysis to established scientists from extra-tropical countries might solve short-term problems, but does not prepare the community of scientists in tropical countries to address future research challenges. The design of such collaborative agreements that satisfy the needs and desires of the various parties involved is complicated by cultural and institutional differences, but progress on this front is evident.
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Vol. 16 • No. 4