The Center for Tropical Forest Science
, or CTFS, is a consortium of forest researchers who pursue long-term research on tree populations using comparable census method. The work developed out of a study of 50 hectares of forest on Barro Colorado Island
in Panama begun in 1981. All individual trees larger than 1 centimeter in stem diameter were measured, mapped, and identified, which included 300 different species. This census has been repeated every five years since, most recently in 2005.
A total of 30 research institutions have now carried out parallel censuses of large forest plots. There are two such large-scale census projects in Africa, four in Latin America, and eight in Asia. Moreover, the census program has been expanded to include temperate and subtropical forests in China. Approximately 2.5 million individual trees of 6000 species are being monitored. Numerous scientific research reports on tree species diversity, distribution, lifespan, and growth rates have been published based on these plots.
CTFS is directed out of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama City, Panama. But researchers and institutions in 14 other countries participate in the network.