I was transfixed by this report in the Guardian on a pristine rain forest in the mouth of a volcano in Mozambique. Besides the bare COOLNESS factor of it all, the photos could be particularly instructive for permies.
For instance, if you click on the photo essay to the left of the page, you can see that most of the trees are pretty small, and the canopy surprisingly open. In fact, it reminds me very much of 50 year regrowth forest of much of Northern Michigan. Does this mean rapid succession? If so, it vindicates the permaculture chop-and-drop dogma.
Additionally they mention the constant "rain" of caterpillar droppings. That, coupled with what appears to be very shallow topsoil, confirms my observations in central Africa that the fertility cycle on this continent is generally a rapid one; relying less on thick layers of humic material--that's a cold climate mechanism--and more on the incredible abundance of small biology to constantly consume, transport, recycle and process nutrient. In my climate it's termites; in Lico, it's caterpillars.
Because most of us will never be in virgin forest ourselves, these photos are a precious resource. I would love to get your observations and insights as well.