Mountain cloud forest conservation and research: a synopsis
Mountain cloud forests (also known as nebelwald, forêt néphéliphile, bosque de ceja montaña, and several other names) are characterized by the presence of persistent or frequent wind-driven cloud. The net precipitation is significantly enhanced by direct canopy interception of cloud water. This, combined with low water use by the vegetation due to reduced solar radiation and vapor deficit, canopy wetting, and general suppression of evapotranspiration, results in net additions to the water yield of the watershed. If these forests are removed an important water supply function is lost. Cloud forests have great biological diversity value, especially because they contain a very high proportion of nationally or regionally endemic species. The most serious threats ranging from climate change to alien species introductions are described; strategies for achieving conservation and better management of cloud forests are discussed and, finally, from a symposium and workshop attended by cloud forest researchers and managers, a set of high priority research topics is presented.