By taking drastic steps, Brazil has succeeded in reducing the annual deforestation rate for Amazonia from 27 770 km2 in 2005 to 5 830 km2 in 2015. However, those steps have not had any effect on forest degradation, notably the partial destruction of the canopy.
In the Brazilian Amazon, degraded forests dominate the landscape along pioneer fronts. The region now faces a major challenge: stopping degradation and managing its forests sustainably. In this issue of Perspective, researchers highlight four priorities for research: developing degraded forest characterization and monitoring methods, drafting specific management plans, understanding the role played by all social players, and supporting policies on a territorial level.
Nowadays, degraded forests are a forest category in their own right. They could play a major role in mitigating climate change. They could also contribute to better ecological functioning on a territorial level. Drafting policies with the dual aim of reducing degradation and optimizing these forests requires strong support from research.