There is a tremendous interest in mitigating the impacts of climate change with forest restoration. Many strategies are used to regain tree cover on deforested lands, ranging from low-cost approaches like natural regeneration (letting forest grow back on its own) to resource-intensive approaches such as assisted restoration (e.g., tree planting). Given the limited resources to achieve ambitious international goals, determining the most efficient and effective restoration approach at specific sites is critical to scaling the global restoration movement.
While there have been significant advances in the understanding of where forests are likely to naturally regenerate, the rates of recovery under natural vs. assisted restoration are incredibly variable and often sparsely documented. Current remote sensing techniques and models, while useful in a broad sense, fall short of delivering regionally specific recommendations that can directly guide choices made by restoration practitioners on the ground. Moreover, in situations where assisted restoration approaches are necessary, projects often have a high failure rate, often because inappropriate approaches are selected for site-level conditions.
Building on work synthesizing the global potential for carbon sequestration by natural regeneration (Cook-Patton et al., 2020), our project aims to quantify potential carbon capture and plant biodiversity recovery of forest, savannah, and mangrove assisted restoration projects. To do so we are conducting a systematic literature review, synthesizing unpublished data from field partners, and integrating as much information from non-English sources as possible. There is an incredible wealth of information on restoration outcomes that is not published in the academic literature (Ladouceur et al., 2022) and want to ensure that we integrate this information into this synthesis as much as possible.
Leland Werden is a restoration ecologist in the Crowther Lab at ETH Zürich. He uses large-scale restoration experiments and conducts global data syntheses to bridge the gap between ecological theory and restoration practice.
References: Cook-Patton, S. C., Leavitt, S. M., Gibbs, D., Harris, N. L., Lister, K., Anderson-Teixeira, K. J., Briggs, R. D., Chazdon, R. L., Crowther, T. W., Ellis, P. W., Griscom, H. P., Herrmann, V., Holl, K. D., Houghton, R. A., Larrosa, C., Lomax, G., Lucas, R., Madsen, P., Malhi, Y., … Griscom, B. W. (2020). Mapping carbon accumulation potential from global natural forest regrowth. Nature, 585(7826), 545–550. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2686-x
Ladouceur, E., Shackelford, N., Bouazza, K., Brudvig, L., Bucharova, A., Conradi, T., Erickson, T. E., Garbowski, M., Garvy, K., Harpole, W. S., Jones, H. P., Knight, T., Nsikani, M. M., Paterno, G., Suding, K., Temperton, V. M., Török, P., Winkler, D. E., & Chase, J. M. (2022). Knowledge sharing for shared success in the decade on ecosystem restoration. Ecological Solutions and Evidence, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.1002/2688-8319.12117