Tropical forest
Fieldwork, marking measured trees to allow for future forest monitoring, in Itombwe Nature Reserve, DR CongoPhoto: A. Cuni-Sanchez

The Tropical Forest Arena (TFA) is an open arena for exchange of information and debates on issues related to tropical forests. The founding members are the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), Equinor, and Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN). The TFA brings together people and organisations from research (from different disciplines), the private sector, public agencies, NGOs, and civil society within the Scandinavian/Norwegian context. The TFA establishes links between different sectors and disciplines in order to combine skills, resources, and expertise for working towards the conservation and restoration of tropical forests.

About the TFA

  • Tropical forests encompass a range of different ecosystems: mangroves inhabiting the intertidal areas of tropical coasts, montane forests, dry tropical forests, peat forests, seasonally flooded forests, upland evergreen rainforests and many more. There is not one tropical forest but many. 

    Besides the diversity on the ecosystem level (different forest types and related ecosystems), tropical forests are home to a vast number of different species: plants, animals, fungi, microbes, etc. Both dry and moist tropical and subtropical forests are hotspots of biodiversity, including high numbers of threatened species.  

    Apart from the intrinsic value which can be ascribed to the forests and their diversity, tropical forests are important for us humans in many regards and on various scales. 

    Globally, tropical forests play a role for climate mitigation and the global carbon cycle due to their ability to take up carbon from the atmosphere and to release oxygen back to it, having provided them with the title as the green lungs of the Earth. On the other hand, deforestation and degradation of tropical forests are a major cause of greenhouse gas emissions. Tropical forests further play a role for atmospheric circulation and precipitation patterns as well as water cycling. 

    Montane forest, Mt. Marsabit, Kenya
    Photo: Credit: L. C. Huber

    Regionally, tropical forests prevent soil erosion, regulate water flows, prevent flooding (e.g. coastal mangroves) and constitute an important source of water supply to people living around them, e.g. the remaining montane forests in East Africa. 

    Locally, many peoples' livelihoods are closely linked to tropical forests, which provide various timber and non-timber forest products, such as firewood, food, or medicinal plants. Beyond provisioning and regulating ecosystem services, tropical forests play a relational and non-material role, for spirituality, reflection, cognitive development, or recreation. 

    In tropical rainforests alone, there are about 1 000 indigenous communities (50 million people) with unique cultures. The number of people relying on tropical forests for their livelihoods is even higher.  

    The world’s tropical forests are under severe threats and rapidly disappearing because of human activity. When tropical forests are destroyed, cultural and biological diversity as well as one of our most effective tools to limit climate change are lost. With this manifold importance of tropical forests on various scales on the one side, and a complexity of direct and indirect drivers behind their loss on the other side, a lot can be gained by combining different perspectives, skills, and expertise in order to jointly work towards the conservation of tropical forests. 

    • Provide an arena for open exchange of information, expertise, and experiences as well as for debates on key challenges related to tropical forests. 
    • Mobilise Norwegian actors (potentially) working on tropical forests (research, NGOs, private and public sector). 
    • Present, discuss, and promote initiatives related to tropical forest protection and restoration, through collaboration among TFA actors. 
    • Stimulate research among TFA actors, e.g., through joint applications for research funding. 
  • Secretariat/administration at NMBU 

    Steering Committee, comprising the founding representatives from research, private, and NGO sector, i.e., NMBU, Equinor and Rainforest Foundation.  

    The wider Arena, including people from a variety of organisations from different sectors (research, private, public, NGO). There is the option to come together for quarterly seminars. 
    Everyone participating in the wider Arena is invited to use the TFA as a platform for discussions, outreach, to connect with other actors and to initiate collaborations.  

Karura forest, Kenya
Photo: Credit: L. C. Huber


  • The Tropical Forest Arena holds approximately four seminars each year (every three months). Each seminar has an overarching topic with selected speakers from different sectors. In addition to presentations this is a space for exchange and critical discussion. The purpose of the seminars is to lead to fruitful discussions and actions to save tropical forests! 

    The next seminar will take place in September 2024. If you have any feedback from previous seminars, ideas for topics or speakers, or would like to be added to our invite list please send an email to  
    Keep an eye on our website for more information on the upcoming seminars.

    • 23rd April 2024: Vitenparken, NMBU, Ås 
      Understanding tropical forests and exploring solutions for their future 
    • 01.16.2024: Litteraturhuset, Oslo 
      Deforestation-free supply chains – empty pledges or real impact? 
    • 10.16.2023: Klimahuset, Oslo 
      Norway’s contributions to stopping tropical deforestation: results, lessons learned and way forward 
    • 06.06.2023: Vitenparken, NMBU, Ås 
      Inauguration seminar 

    Find out more about speakers and presentation topics at the previous seminars here.

Large Entandrophragma (Mahogany) tree in Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park, Congo
Photo: Credit: X.D. Perarnau


Explore our website or LinkedIn page for news related to tropical forests - newly published papers, conferences, main political decisions etc. 
The TFA also aims to provide an outreach space for people working on tropical forests. If you would like to publish a blog article (recent research, opinion piece, ongoing project etc.), send us an email: