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Global forest restoration and the importance of prioritizing local communities


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Forest restoration occupies centre stage in global conversations about carbon removal and biodiversity conservation, but recent research rarely acknowledges social dimensions or environmental justice implications related to its implementation. We find that 294.5 million people live on tropical forest restoration opportunity land in the Global South, including 12% of the total population in low-income countries. Forest landscape restoration that prioritizes local communities by affording them rights to manage and restore forests provides a promising option to align global agendas for climate mitigation, conservation, environmental justice and sustainable development. An analysis of the overlap between tropical forest restoration, human populations, development and national policies for community forest ownership shows that 294.5 million people live within forest restoration opportunity land in the Global South.
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Brief CommuniCation
1Environmental Studies Program, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, USA. 2Bharti Institute of Public Policy, Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, India.
3Dartmouth Library, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, USA. 4Global Development Institute, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK. 5School of
Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA. 6Sheffield Institute for International Development, University of Sheffield,
Sheffield, UK. e-mail:
Forest restoration occupies centre stage in global conversa-
tions about carbon removal and biodiversity conservation,
but recent research rarely acknowledges social dimensions or
environmental justice implications related to its implementa-
tion. We find that 294.5 million people live on tropical forest
restoration opportunity land in the Global South, including
12% of the total population in low-income countries. Forest
landscape restoration that prioritizes local communities by
affording them rights to manage and restore forests provides
a promising option to align global agendas for climate miti-
gation, conservation, environmental justice and sustainable
Forest restoration is considered to be a crucial strategy for
conserving global biodiversity and mitigating climate change13.
New research identifies the global extent of forest restoration
opportunities, demonstrates the promise of forest restoration for
mitigating climate change and calls for more ambitious global for-
est restoration efforts16. There is some disagreement about the
degree to which forest restoration can or should contribute to atmo-
spheric carbon removal79, as mitigating climate change depends on
decarbonizing the economy while protecting intact forests and
restoring degraded landscapes10. Yet prominent conservation ini-
tiatives such as ‘global no net loss’ of natural ecosystems, ‘half for
nature’ and the Aichi Target 11 still combine conservation of intact
natural habitat and restoration of degraded forests to reach their
ambitious targets1113.
To progress those goals, recent research on forest restoration
advances conservation and climate mitigation agendas with knowl-
edge about where trees can be grown and the global potential for
restoration. It often fails, however, to address the social implica-
tions of global forest restoration. Here, we argue that the success
of global forest restoration critically depends on prioritizing local
To realize its full potential, forest restoration cannot avoid rural
populations. Confining restoration efforts to sparsely inhabited
forest landscapes removes the concern of displacing or marginal-
izing local populations, but it limits global restoration in three ways.
First, remote restoration regions (1 person per km2 or less within
a 500 km radius) represent only 11% of global forest restoration
opportunity areas15. Second, because remote forest restoration is
possible only in areas far from human settlements, fewer people will
enjoy any local benefits. Third, pursuing only remote forest restora-
tion would not contribute as meaningfully to biodiversity conser-
vation. The tropics are home to a disproportionate amount of the
world’s biodiversity but contain only 0.68% of all remote restoration
opportunities. Remote forest restoration holds promise for carbon
sequestration, but global agendas that seek to deliver the greatest
number of benefits from forest restoration will need to focus on
populated landscapes5.
Forest restoration initiatives must, therefore, identify how best to
work with local communities. Approaches that exclude indigenous
people and local communities, including some protected areas,
have been associated with environmental conflicts, poor conserva-
tion performance and negative social outcomes1618. Restoring for-
ests without the consent of those who depend on the same land will
probably lead to forced displacement (physical or economic) and/
or costly monitoring and regulation to prohibit illegal (though often
legitimate) activities.
Excluding indigenous people and local people from forest res-
toration also poses ethical problems. Such exclusion would force
some of the most multidimensionally poor people—those who live
in rural areas within low-income countries—to move or give up
their current livelihood for a global carbon and biodiversity debt to
which they contributed little19. Just and equitable climate mitigation
and biodiversity conservation from forest restoration require the
inclusion and participation of local communities20,21.
As a mechanism of land and resource management, forest land-
scape restoration (FLR) has considerable potential to include local
populations and improve local livelihoods. FLR was initially con-
ceived as a management approach to promote ecological restoration
and human well-being in degraded landscapes by engaging local
stakeholders22. By including local stakeholders from the public, pri-
vate and civil society sectors, proponents assert that FLR contributes
to human well-being through the use and sale of forest products,
increases in food as well as water security, and through diverse cul-
tural values people hold for trees and forests2125. However, compet-
ing definitions of FLR exist26. The Bonn Challenge to commence
restoration of 350 million ha of forest landscapes by 2030 refers to
FLR as large-scale forest restoration projects but does not empha-
size the importance of engaging local stakeholders in planning
and implementation processes2,27,28. Thus, many current debates
about FLR reflect a lack of conceptual clarity and do not adequately
address recent evidence as to how forest restoration can promote
ecological as well as human well-being24,29. Here we define FLR
as an approach to landscape planning and management that aims
to restore ecological integrity and enhance human well-being on
deforested and degraded lands through the inclusion and engage-
ment of local stakeholders22.
Global forest restoration and the importance of
prioritizing local communities
J. T. Erbaugh 1 ✉ , N. Pradhan 2, J. Adams 3, J. A. Oldekop 4, A. Agrawal5, D. Brockington 6,
R. Pritchard4,6 and A. Chhatre 2
Brief CommuniCation Nature ecoloGy & evolutioN
To unite global agendas for climate mitigation, conservation and
environmental justice, FLR must go beyond merely including local
stakeholders and prioritize local communities. Given the uncer-
tainty surrounding forest restoration and its impacts on human
well-being3032, the tendency to implement restoration without con-
sulting local stakeholders is untenable33. Consulting local stakehold-
ers alone does not guarantee just and equitable forest restoration.
However, there are numerous examples in the conservation sec-
tor where indigenous people and local communities have gener-
ated positive human and environmental outcomes when afforded
rights to manage and use forests16,34. Technical training and equi-
table resource access reduce some risks associated with community
resource management, including elite capture, overharvests and
exclusion35. In many contexts, empowering communities to man-
age forests for restoration provides a reasonable and just approach
to address contextual uncertainty, incorporate traditional ecologi-
cal knowledge and assist forest proximate populations to receive the
opportunities they desire from global restoration28,36,37.
The potential synergies from prioritizing local communities
through FLR emphasize the importance of determining where for-
est restoration, human populations and development intersect. Our
analysis examines the overlap between opportunities for tropical
forest restoration, human populations, development and national
policies for community forest ownership to identify where focus-
ing forest restoration efforts might best benefit both people and the
planet. We focus on the tropics because of the synergies between car-
bon sequestration, biodiversity conservation and human well-being
benefits that FLR affords there5. We aggregate our data to present
country-level estimates because nation states remain primary actors
in setting carbon removal and landscape restoration targets2.
We find that 294.5 million people live in recently tree-covered
areas representing tropical forest restoration opportunities in the
Global South. Many more people live near these forest restoration
opportunities. One-third of the tropical population in our analysis
(~1.01 billion people) live within 8 km of land predicted to enable
forest restoration from 2020 to 2050, given a moderate carbon tax
incentive (US$20 tCO21). Supplementary Table 1 provides addi-
tional information on population estimates across different forest
restoration opportunities and methods.
Forest restoration opportunities, population and development
vary widely by country (Fig. 1). Brazil (BRA), the Democratic
Republic of the Congo (COD), India (IND) and Indonesia (IDN)
have the greatest number of people living in or near (<8 km)
forest restoration opportunity areas with the greatest potential
to remove carbon (Fig. 2a). Crafting global FLR strategies that
seek to deliver sustainable development benefits to the most local
people within the fewest countries would do well to focus on these
nations. However, FLR may generate greater population-level
benefits in nations where forest restoration opportunities, and
the people who depend on them, represent a substantial propor-
tion of their respective total. Political, market and civil society
actors in these same countries are likely to enhance international
activity and investment in FLR with national efforts, should restora-
tion provide well-being benefits. Countries with a greater propor-
tion of forest restoration opportunity area include COD, Tanzania
(TZA), the Central African Republic (CAF), and Mozambique
(MOZ) (Fig. 2b).
FLR investments hold the promise to improve the livelihood
and well-being of millions who are often underserved by standard
investments in infrastructure and development. Within low-income
countries, 12% of the population lives in forest restoration oppor-
tunity areas (Fig. 1c). Forest restoration opportunities exist out-
side the areas of greatest human pressure, and populations in these
areas often face greater infrastructural and developmental depriva-
tion. Nighttime light radiance indicates the extent and magnitude
of electrical infrastructure and usage, and it is strongly correlated
with a host of development indicators3840. Areas in low-income
nations with the least nighttime light radiance and the greatest car-
bon removal potential indicate where FLR might best complement
sustainable development agendas. There are many opportunities in
Central, Eastern and Southern Africa to restore forests and provide
socioeconomic and infrastructure benefits to local people facing
many multidimensional deprivations (Fig. 2 and Supplementary
Fig. 1). However, concurrently improving infrastructure and restor-
ing forests does create additional risks, since forest cover loss and
degradation often follow infrastructure development41. Providing
indigenous people and local communities with the ability to partici-
pate in managing forest landscapes via resource rights can moderate
15° S
10° S
5° S
5° N
10° N
15° N
20° N
removals from FR (tCO2)
15° S
10° S
5° S
5° N
10° N
15° N
20° N
15° S
10° S
5° S
5° N
10° N
15° N
20° N
100° W 50° W 50° E
100° E 150° E
Income level (WDI)
Lower income
Lower−middle income
Upper−middle income
Fig. 1 | Forest restoration (FR) opportunity areas in the tropics. a, FR opportunity areas15 by estimated carbon removal from 2020 to 2050 given a
US$20 tCO21 scenario4. b, FR areas by population density (population per 5.55 km2)48. c, FR areas by country-level income categories50. Inset: the
proportion of people living in FR areas by income category. WDI, World Development Indicators.
Brief CommuniCation
Nature ecoloGy & evolutioN
the relationship between improved infrastructure, forest cover loss
and human well-being42.
Most forest restoration opportunity areas and their associated
populations exist in countries with legal foundations for community
forest ownership. Community forest ownership includes the follow-
ing rights afforded in perpetuity: forest access, resource withdrawal,
exclusion as well as due process and compensation43. As such, own-
ership represents a stronger set of resource rights than community
forest management or access alone. In this analysis, countries with
pre-existing legal frameworks and evidence of community forest
ownership (n = 22) contain two-thirds of forest restoration oppor-
tunity areas (Fig. 2 and Supplementary Table 2). Further, countries
that provide forest ownership rights to communities contain 70%
of people living in or near forest restoration opportunity areas
(Supplementary Table 2), representing a large proportion of their
total tropical population (Fig. 2a,b). A legal framework for commu-
nity forest rights and evidence of their recognition do not guarantee
faithful implementation of community forest ownership, but their
absence indicates that forest proximate communities are excluded
from making authorized decisions about the future of the forests on
which they depend. This implies a greater likelihood of exclusion
from forest areas, forest products and related benefits. Continued
efforts to expand community forest ownership are essential, and
they are of pressing national importance in countries with a sub-
stantial proportion of people living in forest restoration opportu-
nity areas, such as CAF, COD, Thailand (THA) and the Lao People’s
Democratic Republic (LAO) (Fig. 2b). To advance global restoration
while prioritizing forest proximate peoples through community
Tropical population
Income level (WDI)
Lower income
Lower−middle income
Upper−middle income
Community forest ownership
Nighttime radiance
(nW cm–2 sr–1 × 109)
100,000 1,000,000 10,000,000 100,000,000
Population in forest restoration areas
Increased removals from forest restoration (tCO2)
0 0.2 0.4 0.6
100 10,000 1,000,000
Radiance in forest restoration areas
Increased removals from forest restoration (tCO2)
0 0.2 0.4 0.6
Total tropical radiance
Radiance in forest restoration areas
Total population
Population in forest restoration areas
Fig. 2 | Country-level population and nighttime light radiance by increased removals from reforestation. a, Countries plotted in reference to population48
in FR opportunity areas by increased removals from forest restoration in tCO2. b, The proportion of country population in FR areas by increased removals.
c, Total nighttime light radiance49 by increased removals. d, The proportion of nighttime light radiance in FR areas by total tropical nighttime light radiance.
Increased removals are predicted under a US$20 tCO21 scenario from 2020 to 2050. Nighttime light radiance is measured in nW cm2 sr1 × 109. All
panels visualize 45 countries that represent 90% of the total FLR opportunity area in the tropics. Supplementary Information contains plots with all
countries (n= 69). See Supplementary Table 3 for country codes.
Brief CommuniCation Nature ecoloGy & evolutioN
forest rights, FLR must emphasize the importance of locally man-
aged restoration.
FLR that prioritizes local communities represents a just mecha-
nism for global forest restoration. Recent research highlights the
importance of forest restoration to climate mitigation agendas, and
it advances the ability to locate forest restoration opportunities. It
remains essential to assess this information in relation to institu-
tional, social and political circumstances to determine how FLR
can best contribute to equitable and sustainable climate solutions.
Excluding local communities from global forest restoration limits
our ability to mitigate climate change, and it risks resistance, conflict
and perpetuating environmental injustices. Empowering local com-
munities to restore forests can provide human well-being benefits
to millions of the most deprived and marginalized people as well as
environmental benefits for all.
Forest restoration opportunity areas. We combine two datasets to identify areas
that represent opportunities for forest restoration. Combining data that classies
forest restoration opportunities using demographic, geographic and land-cover
data with estimates from a land-change model that predicts carbon removal from
forest restoration provides more conservative estimates of where, and to what
extent, forest restoration is likely to mitigate climate change.
We first define forest restoration opportunity areas as wide-scale and mosaic
restoration areas in the tropics identified in the ‘Global map of forest landscape
restoration opportunities15. Wide-scale restoration areas have the potential to
support closed forest canopy and contain population densities of less than 10
people per km2. Mosaic restoration areas are similarly able to support closed forest
canopy but contain population densities of between 10 and 100 people per km2.
Forest restoration areas from the ‘Global map’ are identified by layering data.
Through this method, deductively determined cut-off points and population
densities applied to spatial biophysical and human pressure datasets identify
locations most amenable to forest restoration. Other studies of global forest
restoration opportunities and land-cover patterns employ this method of spatial
identification5,44. Among the global set of forest restoration opportunities, we
focus on opportunities in tropical countries, because of the potential these areas
have for removing atmospheric carbon, promoting biodiversity conservation and
contributing to the well-being of forest proximate people3,5.
We further define forest restoration opportunities using estimates of where,
and to what extent, atmospheric carbon removal from forest restoration would
occur given a moderate economic incentive. Estimates of carbon removal come
from a land-change model that calculates where a US$20 tCO21 carbon tax is likely
to incentivize forest restoration from 2020 to 2050, based on tree cover in 2000 and
2010, topographical variation as well as agricultural opportunity costs4. Though
the model estimates forest restoration and carbon removal using a US$20 tCO21
scenario, these data broadly represent where a moderate financial incentive equal
to or greater than the value generated by a carbon tax is likely to promote forest
restoration. Importantly, this approach improves upon many studies that identify
forest restoration opportunities through layering, because it explicitly models
carbon removal from forest restoration as a function of opportunity costs based on
prices of regional agricultural products.
The ‘Global map’ and carbon removal spatial datasets differed in extent and
resolution. We analyse forest restoration opportunities in the tropics from 23.4°
N to 15° S, because both datasets contain information across this spatial extent.
Within this extent, the ‘Global map’ data contain pixels measuring 30 arcsec
(~1 km), while the carbon removal dataset contains pixels measuring 3 arcmin
(~5.55 km). To identify forest restoration opportunities as the union of these
datasets, we calculated the percent of ‘Global map’ opportunity areas within each
pixel of carbon removal from forest restoration estimated by the land-change
model. Country-level aggregates for carbon removal by population, as well as
carbon removal by nighttime light radiance, vary in accordance with the ‘Global
map’ opportunity threshold (Supplementary Figs. 2–5). We present the 30%
threshold findings in the main text to mirror the standard of using 30% canopy
cover to categorize 30 m pixels as tree covered45. However, the findings we report
in the main text are largely robust to varying the threshold for ‘Global map
opportunity areas between 30% and 50% (Supplementary Figs. 2–5).
Using mutually informative datasets improves the identification of forest
restoration areas and their potential for carbon removal. By combining the
‘Global map’ and carbon removal datasets, our findings draw from strengths of
both datasets, and avoid (what some have considered) overestimation of forest
restoration opportunities in high-population-density croplands (>100 people
per km2) and native grasslands46,47. We dropped all ‘Global map’ opportunity areas
with over 100 people per km2, and our analysis does not include areas without at
least 30% tree cover in 2000 or 20104. Thus, the forest restoration opportunity areas
in this research represent estimates of where forest restoration is most likely to
occur in regions that were tree covered in the twenty-first century. Future research
might apply the methods of this analysis to compare estimates across additional
datasets that identify additional forest restoration opportunities and global
tree-carrying capacities1,5.
Estimating population, nighttime light radiance and income categories in FLR
areas. We combine forest restoration opportunities with spatial data on population
and nighttime light radiance, as well as country-level data on income categories,
to provide demographic, infrastructural and economic insights concerning forest
restoration opportunities. The population48 and nighttime light radiance data49 have
the same spatial resolution as the data from the ‘Global map’. Thus, we aggregated
these data to match our forest restoration opportunity area data. The number of
people within restoration opportunity areas measuring 30 arcsec differed from the
number of people within areas measuring 3 arcmin that provide any carbon removal
additionality under a US$20 tCO21 carbon tax. We estimate that approximately
294.5 million people live directly within forest restoration opportunity areas
(30 arcsec), over two-thirds of the total tropical population (2.37 billion people)
in this analysis live within 8 km of any predicted carbon removal from forest
restoration between 2020 and 2050 given in a US$20 tCO21 incentive, and 1.01
billion people live in forest restoration opportunities identified in this study as a 3
arcmin area with any predicted carbon removed from forest restoration and covered
by at least 30% of mosaic or wide-scale restoration opportunities identified by the
‘Global map’ (Fig. 2). Supplementary Fig. 6 visualizes country-level information
for forest restoration opportunities defined as the union of the ‘Global map’ and
predicted carbon removal data, without imposing a minimum coverage threshold.
The income categories in this research follow the World Bank classification
scheme, which categorizes countries into low income, lower-middle income and
upper-middle income on the basis of gross national income (GNI) per capita.
Low-income countries have a GNI per capita of less than US$1,025; lower-middle
income countries, between US$1,026 and US$3,995; and upper-middle income
countries, US$3,996 and $12,37550. For pixel-level visualization, we overlaid
country boundaries with forest restoration opportunity areas to determine the
related income category per pixel. To calculate the proportion of people per income
category within forest restoration opportunity areas (Fig. 1c), we used the total
number of people per country, including people who live in areas outside the
extent of Fig. 1.
Community resource rights and tenure. This research considers community
tenure to be a bundle of resource rights that enable communities to manage land
areas for their own benefit51,52. Following the Rights and Resources Initiative, this
research divides community forest tenure into two categories43. The first category
is community ownership of forest areas. Community ownership of forest areas
provides the rights to access forests, withdraw forest resources, manage forest
resources and exclude others from using resources. Community forest ownership
is not limited by the need for renewal or oversight, and communities that own
forests have the right to due process and compensation. The second category of
community forest tenure refers to a bundle of rights that enable communities to
manage forests in perpetuity. Community forest management rights include all the
rights of community ownership, except for the right to due process and unlimited
duration of rights. Community forest management rights often coincide with
co-management governance strategies, where a governmental authority and a
group of local people work together to manage forest areas. We further distinguish
between countries that have a legal basis for community forest tenure (ownership
or designation) and countries for which there is evidence of communities that
legally hold tenure rights. We gather evidence from research conducted by the
Rights and Resources Initiative43,53.
Of the 106 low- and middle-income countries in the tropics within this dataset,
73 contained forest restoration opportunities as defined in this research. There
are 42 countries that have a legal basis for community forest tenure43,53. Of these
42 countries, 22 have a legal basis for community forest ownership and provide
some evidence of providing those rights. Supplementary Table 2 highlights these
42 countries, ordered by evidence and legal basis for community forest ownership,
evidence and legal basis for community forest designation, and the total amount of
FLR opportunity area. All World Bank country codes for countries in this analysis
are listed in Supplementary Table 3.
Reporting Summary. Further information on research design is available in the
Nature Research Reporting Summary linked to this article.
Data availability
Data for and from this analysis are available at the Harvard Dataverse (https://doi.
org/10.7910/DVN/YUUXKU). The folder contains instructions for obtaining all
input and output data that it does not contain due to size or sharing limitations.
Code availability
Code for analysis is available at the Harvard Dataverse (
DVN/YUUXKU). The folder contains information on setting up the Docker
container to reproduce analysis as well as static versions of software dependencies
that are not part of the default Docker image.
Brief CommuniCation
Nature ecoloGy & evolutioN
Received: 20 January 2020; Accepted: 20 July 2020;
Published: xx xx xxxx
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This work was supported by the Rights and Resources Initiative. J.T.E. undertook this
research while supported by the National Science Foundation (grant no. 1912001).
We thank J. Busch for providing comments on an earlier version of this manuscript and
A. Frechette, C. Ginsburg and D. Kroeker-Maus for their research assistance.
Author contributions
J.T.E., J.A., J.A.O. and A.C. designed the analyses. J.T.E., J.A. and N.P. compiled the data
and conducted the analyses. J.T.E., J.A.O., R.P., D.B., A.A. and A.C. wrote the paper.
Competing interests
The authors declare no competing interests.
Additional information
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Study description This study visualizes and describes how the potential for forest landscape restoration (FLR) intersects with socio-political variables. It uses
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... Although the Bonn Challenge emphasizes that local socioeconomic outcomes influence the longevity of restoration efforts, it is not clear how to operationalize socioeconomic objectives within a technocratic (i.e., top-down government or expert driven) frame (Clewell and Aronson 2006). Social scientists and ecologists alike increasingly emphasize a need to elevate local people's perspectives within restoration discourses (Clewell and Aronson 2006, Erbaugh et al. 2020, Holl and Brancalion 2020, Puspitaloka et al. 2020, Di Sacco et al. 2021, Elias et al. 2021, Ghazoul and Schweizer 2021, Osborne et al. 2021, and calls to unite ecological restoration with environmental and social justice have been present for several decades (Holloran 1996). However, tangible pathways for better inclusion of community perspectives and environmental and social justice issues remain largely unclear for restoration practitioners and scientists. ...
... How the socioeconomic context affects equity and effectiveness of restoration interventions It has been well established by a broad range of literature on conservation, land system science, and political ecology that whether land-use interventions succeed in enhancing ecological functionality and human well-being depends on the socioeconomic contexts on the ground, including, among other things, governance systems, power structures, and values (Ostrom and Nagendra 2006, Chhatre and Agrawal 2009, Klein et al. 2015, Erbaugh et al. 2020, Wells et al. 2020, Elias et al. 2021. Understanding the socioeconomic context of restoration is therefore a prerequisite for restoration to be executed in a way that promotes equitable and effective outcomes. ...
... The way forward So far, we have argued that placing social considerations, especially governance systems, power imbalances, and trade-offs between values, at the center of restoration planning and action is crucial to the equity and effectiveness of restoration interventions. Building on this, as well as recent calls for greater prioritization of livelihood considerations in restoration schemes (Clewell and Aronson 2006, Erbaugh et al. 2020, Holl and Brancalion 2020, Puspitaloka et al. 2020, Di Sacco et al. 2021, Elias et al. 2021, Ghazoul and Schweizer 2021, Osborne et al. 2021, we outline five actions for the restoration community, including scientists and policymakers, to better crystallize how these social considerations should be addressed. Our action points (summarized in figure 4) provide high-level guidance for promoting equity-centered ecosystem restoration, complementing the 10 people-centered project level rules proposed by Elias and colleagues (2021). ...
Full-text available
Ecosystem restoration is an important means to address global sustainability challenges. However, scientific and policy discourse often overlooks the social processes that influence the equity and effectiveness of restoration interventions. In the present article, we outline how social processes that are critical to restoration equity and effectiveness can be better incorporated in restoration science and policy. Drawing from existing case studies, we show how projects that align with local people's preferences and are implemented through inclusive governance are more likely to lead to improved social, ecological, and environmental outcomes. To underscore the importance of social considerations in restoration, we overlay existing global restoration priority maps, population, and the Human Development Index (HDI) to show that approximately 1.4 billion people, disproportionately belonging to groups with low HDI, live in areas identified by previous studies as being of high restoration priority. We conclude with five action points for science and policy to promote equity-centered restoration.
... Forest restoration/creation programs often seek to provide so-called "triple wins" for climate change, biodiversity, and human wellbeing (Pritchard, 2021;Zhang et al., 2021). However, many often overlook the social (Erbaugh et al., 2020;Irvine & Herrett, 2018) and cultural impacts (Dodev et al., 2020;Seddon et al., 2021) of instigating such forest-based policies. While there are widespread calls for forest restoration/creation to provide "the right tree in the right place," there is also a need to understand for whom the trees are right. ...
... Such initiatives have socioeconomic and biophysical impacts that can transform landscapes which are already used by people, and public backing and stewardship is crucial for success (Coleman et al., 2021). Exclusion of local communities from decision-making processes raises ethical issues (Erbaugh et al., 2020) and can severely hinder potential support (Pritchard, 2021). Therefore, forest restoration/creation should be viewed as both an ecological and social science (Pritchard, 2021). ...
Full-text available
Forest restoration/creation is a policy focus worldwide, with initiatives pledging to plant billions of trees. While there is an emphasis on providing “the right tree in the right place,” we need to understand for whom the trees are right. Such social dimensions are frequently overlooked, despite being critical to successful forest restoration/creation. We used Q‐methodology to examine what forest biodiversity attributes (e.g., functions, behaviors, colors, smells) people (N = 194) relate to and how in Britain. We found that shared public perspectives on biodiversity attributes are multifaceted, influenced by personal experience and vary across taxa. This heterogeneity highlights the importance of gaining a richer understanding of human–nature relationships, as restoration/creation initiatives need to deliver biodiverse forests to accommodate the plurality of preferences brought to bear upon them. Based on our findings, emphasizing biodiversity in forest restoration/creation should contribute to greater use of, comfort in, and meaningful engagement with, forests in the future by a wider set of publics.
... To maximize potential benefits, most restoration initiatives should occur within agricultural landscapes (Erbaugh et al 2020), especially in tropical regions (Pashkevich et al 2022). For instance, the Brazilian Atlantic Forest is a restoration 'hopespot' (Rezende et al 2018), which was historically reduced to a small fraction of its original extension (Boddey et al 2003, Joly et al 2014. ...
Full-text available
Restoration of native tropical forests is crucial for protecting biodiversity and ecosystem functions, such as carbon stock capacity. However, little is known about the contribution of early stages of forest regeneration to crop productivity through the enhancement of ecosystem services, such as crop pollination and pest control. Using data from 610 municipalities along the Brazilian Atlantic Forest (30 m spatial resolution), we evaluated if young regenerating forests (less than 20 years old) are positively associated with coffee yield and whether such a relationship depends on the amount of preserved forest in the surroundings of the coffee fields. We found that regenerating forest alone was not associated with variations in coffee yields. However, the presence of young regenerating forest (within a 500 m buffer) was positively related to higher coffee yields when the amount of preserved forest in a 2 km buffer is above a 20% threshold cover. These results further reinforce that regional coffee yields are influenced by changes in biodiversity-mediated ecosystem services, which are explained by the amount of mature forest in the surrounding of coffee fields. We argue that while regenerating fragments may contribute to increased connectivity between remnants of forest fragments and crop fields in landscapes with a minimum amount of forest (20%), older preserved forests (more than 20 years) are essential for sustaining pollinator and pest enemy’s populations. These results highlight the potential time lag of at least 20 years of regenerating forests’ in contributing to the provision of ecosystem services that affect coffee yields (e.g., pollination and pest control). We emphasize the need to implement public policies that promote ecosystem restoration and ensure the permanence of these new forests over time.
... Intensification of agricultural activities, alongside urban expansion, comes at the expense of forests; hence, these changes exert a direct, negative impact on the water quality of surrounding areas (IPBES 2019;Ávila-García et al. 2020). Typically, in rural areas, groups of individuals with less economic status and less political power are those most affected by unequal access to ecosystem services and natural resources (Brooks 2015;Erbaugh et al. 2020;McDermott et al. 2013). The main concern in terms of the intensification of agriculture in rural areas is related with the undesired effects of agrochemicals, mainly pesticides, on non-target organisms. ...
Full-text available
Limited success in implementing the 2030 Agenda underlines the need to leverage interactions among Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Inequality (SDG 10), water accessibility (SDG 6), health (SDG 3), and terrestrial ecosystems (SDG 15) interlinkages provide a case for identifying and understanding the need to integrate different SDGs when implementing the sustainable development agenda. Lack of access to clean water and adequate sanitation remains prevalent in many rural areas, and intensive land-cover change has been the main cause of the deterioration of water resources worldwide. The purpose of this paper is to open up a conversation on how the prevalence of inequality in income, wealth, and access to natural resources affects marginalized people, particularly in rural areas. Drawing on the case study of three municipalities in the Río Grande de Comitán-Lagos de Montebello watershed in Chiapas, Mexico, we illustrate some of the consequences of the intensification of agricultural activities, alongside urban expansion, at the expense of forests and the negative impact on the water quality of surrounding areas during the last two decades. We discuss how individual and collective action (SDG 11), economy and finance (SDG 12), and governance (SDG 16) can act as levers for action to halt environmental degradation and its associated negative impacts on human health.
... Promoting forest restoration and increasing tree cover to improve the above and belowground carbon stocks is a nature-based climate solution and a possible way to mitigate global climate change by removing CO 2 from the atmosphere (Doelman et al., 2020;Griscom et al., 2017). Therefore, local projects restoring forests and planting trees in karst areas are a crucial component of this pathway to sustainable carbon neutrality (Domke et al., 2020;Erbaugh et al., 2020;Wang et al., 2020). Over the past about two decades, afforestation and ecological restoration projects in southern China have transformed large areas of croplands into forests (Liao et al., 2018;Yue et al., 2020), with 5.32 PgC that can still be sequestered in form of aboveground woody biomass in 2017. ...
... While forest practitioners usually follow the policy directives, local communities' willingness to participate in restoration depends on various socio-economic factors, including land ownership and economic benefits. Restoring forestland through a people-centered approach may thus involve balancing the diverse needs of multiple stakeholders, determining the government's institutional capacity for restoration (Erbaugh et al., 2020), and, most importantly, identifying the socio-economic determinants of the local community's willingness to participate in the restoration. Such a multifaceted complexity calls for a holistic approach to forest restoration, including balancing social, ecological, economic and institutional conditions (Biswas et al., 2009;Le et al., 2014;Brancalion and Holl, 2020). ...
Full-text available
Bangladesh government has recently pledged to restore 0.75 million hectares of degraded forest-land as part of its commitment to the Bonn challenge, however little is known about the potential challenges and opportunities towards achieving that goal. Using secondary literature complemented by expert consultation and a field survey, we examined the outcomes and limitations of the past restoration programs and identified key social, ecological and institutional aspects crucial for a successful forest restoration program in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of Bangladesh. The region accounts for over one-third of state-owned forests and supports a large part of country's forest-dwelling ethnic populations, but most forestlands are severely degraded. Our analyses revealed that past programs utilized participatory tree planting, horticulture and rubber-based agroforestry to restore degraded forestland and improve community livelihood in the CHT. However, past restoration programs merely emphasized improving tree cover without considering ecological functionality, biodiversity and carbon co-benefits of restored forests. The duration of those programs was also relatively short, without any clear plan for engaging local communities in restoration activities beyond the program period. Among others, the local ethnic community's land rights issue remains unresolved and the participant's land ownership influenced their willingness to participate effectively in restoration programs. Households with secured land rights had a more positive attitude towards participating in forestland restoration than those with unsecured land rights. Suitable acts and policies that may allow people to legally continue tree-based land use in the regions (i.e., forest and land tenure rights) are also lacking. Future forest and landscape restoration (FLR) programs may thus need to focus on improving restored forests' biodiversity and ecological functionality, resolving the local people's forest and land tenure rights, and involving them with site-specific restoration interventions. The engagement of local and regional level multiple stakeholders in an FLR program is also essential for realizing the restoration's multiple social and ecological benefits.
... However, policymakers should note that infrastructure that does not pay attention to the AMDAL assessment will result in environmental damage. This means that not all excessive infrastructure will have a positive impact on society and the environment, such as initiating road infrastructure, which reduces land and forests as environmental ecosystems of flora and fauna (Bebbington et al., 2018;Erbaugh et al., 2020;Sloan et al., 2018). ...
Purpose This paper aims to identify variables that determine the differing levels of environmental quality on Java and other islands in Indonesia. Design/methodology/approach Using a quantitative approach, secondary data were sourced from the Central Statistics Agency and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. The data were obtained through the collection of documentation from 33 provinces in Indonesia. The analytical approach used was discriminant analysis. The research variables are Trade Openness, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), industry, HDI and population growth. Findings The variables that distinguish between the levels of environmental quality in Indonesian provinces on the island of Java and on other islands are Industry, HDI, FDI and population growth. The openness variable is not a differentiating variable for environmental quality. The most powerful variable as a differentiator of environmental quality on Java Island and on other islands is the Industry variable. Research limitations/implications This study has not classified the quality of the environment based on the Ministry of Environment and Forestry's categories, namely, the very good, good, quite good, poor, very poor and dangerous. For this reason, further research is needed using multiple discriminant analysis (MDA). Practical implications Industry is the variable that most strongly distinguishes between levels of environmental quality on Java and other island, while the industrial sector is the largest contributor to gross regional domestic product (GDRP). Government policy to develop green technology is mandatory so that there is no trade-off between industry and environmental quality. Originality/value This study is able to identify the differentiating variables of environmental quality in two different groups, on Java and on the other islands of the Indonesian archipelago.
... Promoting forest restoration and increasing tree cover to improve the above and belowground carbon stocks is a nature-based climate solution and a possible way to mitigate global climate change by removing CO 2 from the atmosphere (Doelman et al., 2020;Griscom et al., 2017). Therefore, local projects restoring forests and planting trees in karst areas are a crucial component of this pathway to sustainable carbon neutrality (Domke et al., 2020;Erbaugh et al., 2020;Wang et al., 2020). Over the past about two decades, afforestation and ecological restoration projects in southern China have transformed large areas of croplands into forests (Liao et al., 2018;Yue et al., 2020), with 5.32 PgC that can still be sequestered in form of aboveground woody biomass in 2017. ...
Full-text available
Afforestation and land use changes that sequester carbon from the atmosphere in the form of woody biomass have turned southern China into one of the largest carbon sinks globally, which contributes to mitigating climate change. However, forest growth saturation and available land that can be forested limit the longevity of this carbon sink, and while a plethora of studies have quantified vegetation changes over the last decades, the remaining carbon sink potential of this area is currently unknown. Here, we train a model with multiple predictors characterizing the heterogeneous landscapes of southern China and predict the biomass carbon carrying capacity of the region for 2002–2017. We compare observed and predicted biomass carbon density and find that during about two decades of afforestation, 2.34 PgC have been sequestered between 2002 and 2017, and a total of 5.32 Pg carbon can potentially still be sequestrated. This means that the region has reached 73% of its aboveground biomass carbon carrying capacity in 2017, which is 12% more than in 2002, equal to a decrease of 0.77% per year. We identify potential afforestation areas that can still sequester 2.39 PgC, while old and new forests have reached 87% of their potential with 1.85 PgC remaining. Our work locates areas where vegetation has not yet reached its full potential but also shows that afforestation is not a long‐term solution for climate change mitigation.
Ecological restoration is crucial to mitigate climate change and conserve biodiversity, and accurately monitoring responses to restoration is imperative to guide current and future efforts. This study examines the impact of ecological restoration of a tropical dry forest in central India. Here, the state forest department and a non‐governmental organization work with local communities to remove an invasive shrub, Lantana camara, in the forest, to assist natural regeneration, primarily for the purpose of improving access to forest resources for forest‐dependent people. We used acoustic technology to examine the bird community composition and the acoustic space used (ASU) across comparable restored, unrestored (with L. camara) and naturally low L. camara density (LLD) sites. We found no significant difference in the cumulative number of bird species detected between the site types (median in restored and LLD = 38, unrestored = 41). We found a significant difference in bird community composition across sites (r2 = 0.049, p = <0.001). ASU differs between site types (r2 = 0.023, p = <0.10), with restored sites positively associated with ASU compared to unrestored and LLD sites, which could represent a temporary increase in ASU as animal communities are reorganized after the complete removal of L. camara. Our results suggest that small‐scale restoration efforts that aim to help meet livelihood needs have the potential to contribute to ecological goals in this landscape. However, it is necessary to continue to monitor the regeneration trajectory in restored sites and the possible changes in the ASU. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Full-text available
Standard solutions to the threat of >1.5 °C global average warming are not ambitious enough to prevent large-scale irreversible loss. Meaningful climate action requires interventions that are preventative, effective and systemic—interventions that are radical rather than conventional. New forms of radical intervention are already emerging, but they risk being waylaid by rhetorical or misleading claims. Here, to encourage a more informed debate, we present a typology of radical intervention based on recent studies of resilience, transition and transformation. The typology, which is intended to be provocative, questions the extent that different interventions can disrupt the status quo to address the root drivers of climate change. In this Perspective, the authors argue that radical, rather than conventional, interventions are necessary to address climate change. They discuss the definitions and interpretations of the term ‘radical’, and present a typology of radical intervention that addresses the root drivers of climate change.
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Numerous countries have made voluntary commitments to conduct forest landscape restoration over millions of hectares of degraded land in the coming decade. We consider the relative likelihood these countries will achieve their restoration commitments. Across countries, the area committed to restoration increased with existing forest and plantation area, but was inversely related to development status, with less developed countries pledging more area. Restoration commitments are generally large (median: 2 million hectares) and will be challenging to meet without the wholesale transformation of food production systems. Indeed, one third of countries committed >10% of their land area to restoration (maximum: 81%). Furthermore, high rates of land cover change may reverse gains: a quarter of countries experienced recent deforestation and agricultural expansion that exceeded their restoration commitment area. The limited progress reported by countries, and the sheer scale of commitments, raises serious questions about long‐term success, especially absent necessary monitoring and management plans.
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A global goal of no net loss of natural ecosystems or better has recently been proposed, but such a goal would require equitable translation to country-level contributions. Given the wide variation in ecosystem depletion, these could vary from net gain (for countries where restoration is needed), to managed net loss (in rare circumstances where natural ecosystems remain extensive and human development imperative is greatest). National contributions and international support for implementation also must consider non-area targets (for example, for threatened species) and socioeconomic factors such as the capacity to conserve and the imperative for human development. A framework is presented for achieving global no net loss of biodiversity that accounts for inequity among countries in both pressures and ability to act.
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In light of continuing global biodiversity loss, one ambitious proposal has gained considerable traction amongst conservationists: the goal to protect half the Earth. Our analysis suggests that at least one billion people live in places that would be protected if the Half Earth proposal were implemented within all ecoregions. Taking into account the social and economic impacts of such proposals is central to addressing social and environmental justice concerns, and assessing their acceptability and feasibility.
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Bastin et al . (Reports, 5 July 2019, p. 76) state that the restoration potential of new forests globally is 205 gigatonnes of carbon, conclude that “global tree restoration is our most effective climate change solution to date,” and state that climate change will drive the loss of 450 million hectares of existing tropical forest by 2050. Here we show that these three statements are incorrect.
Full-text available
Bastin et al .’s estimate (Reports, 5 July 2019, p. 76) that tree planting for climate change mitigation could sequester 205 gigatonnes of carbon is approximately five times too large. Their analysis inflated soil organic carbon gains, failed to safeguard against warming from trees at high latitudes and elevations, and considered afforestation of savannas, grasslands, and shrublands to be restoration.
Full-text available
The potential for global forest cover The restoration of forested land at a global scale could help capture atmospheric carbon and mitigate climate change. Bastin et al. used direct measurements of forest cover to generate a model of forest restoration potential across the globe (see the Perspective by Chazdon and Brancalion). Their spatially explicit maps show how much additional tree cover could exist outside of existing forests and agricultural and urban land. Ecosystems could support an additional 0.9 billion hectares of continuous forest. This would represent a greater than 25% increase in forested area, including more than 200 gigatonnes of additional carbon at maturity.Such a change has the potential to store an equivalent of 25% of the current atmospheric carbon pool. Science , this issue p. 76 ; see also p. 24
The concept of forest landscape restoration (FLR) is being widely adopted around the globe by governmental, non‐governmental agencies, and the private sector, all of whom see FLR as an approach that contributes to multiple global sustainability goals. Originally, FLR was designed with a clearly integrative dimension across sectors, stakeholders, space and time, and in particular across the natural and social sciences. Yet, in practice, this integration remains a challenge in many FLR efforts. Reflecting this lack of integration are the continued narrow sectoral and disciplinary approaches taken by forest restoration projects, often leading to marginalisation of the most vulnerable populations, including through land dispossessions. This article aims to assess what lessons can be learned from other associated fields of practice for FLR implementation. To do this, 35 scientists came together to review the key literature on these concepts to suggest relevant lessons and guidance for FLR. We explored the following large‐scale land use frameworks or approaches: land sparing/land sharing, the landscape approach, agroecology, and socio‐ecological systems. Also, to explore enabling conditions to promote integrated decision making, we reviewed the literature on understanding stakeholders and their motivations, tenure and property rights, polycentric governance, and integration of traditional and Western knowledge. We propose lessons and guidance for practitioners and policymakers on ways to improve integration in FLR planning and implementation. Our findings highlight the need for a change in decision‐making processes for FLR, better understanding of stakeholder motivations and objectives for FLR, and balancing planning with flexibility to enhance social–ecological resilience. Publication cover image Early View Online Version of Record before inclusion in an issue Related Information Metrics Details © 2019 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Keywords drivers of deforestation forest landscape restoration integration of natural resource management multi‐functional landscapes traditional knowledge Publication History Version of Record online: 04 December 2019 Accepted manuscript online: 11 September 2019 Manuscript accepted: 10 September 2019 Manuscript revised: 29 June 2019 Manuscript received: 18 January 2019
Bastin et al . (Reports, 5 July 2019, p. 76) claim that global tree restoration is the most effective climate change solution to date, with a reported carbon storage potential of 205 gigatonnes of carbon. However, this estimate and its implications for climate mitigation are inconsistent with the dynamics of the global carbon cycle and its response to anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions.
An urgent need to replenish tree canopy cover calls for holistic approaches