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April 2002 Issue
The Geographical Review
April 2002, Vol. 92 (2), pp. 213-234
Anthropogenic Change in the Landscapes of Highland Ecuador
Fausto O. Sarmiento
geoecology, montane, páramos, tree-line change, Tropandean,
tropical montane cloud forest.
The anthropogenic nature of Andean ecosystems is discussed in the framework of tree-line dynamics in selected sites in Ecuador. Indicators of human impact are evidence of the need for a scientific understanding of neotropical mountains that is better in tune with the special conditions of tropical Andean environments. Tropandean systems are neither tropical ecosystems nor midlatitude regions, and lessons from ecologically damaging activities in those ecosystems cannot be transferred readily to Tropandean systems. Better research from the ethnobiological and ecological fronts is needed if we are to comprehend the intricate functions of neotropical mountains, particularly the cloud-forest belt, which is regarded as the most threatened ecosystem when considering sustainability scenarios.