Quantcast

7 Places With Unexpected Forest Restoration Potential

The world has lost almost half of its original forest cover, due largely to booming population growth and agricultural expansion. But even though these forests are gone, there is still a tremendous amount of underutilized and unproductive land that has the potential to provide valuable ecosystem services if trees are returned to the landscape. Clean water, improved soil fertility and income from forest products are just a few of the services that these lands, once restored, could provide.

So where in the world are the greatest opportunities for restoration? In collaboration with the University of Maryland and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and as part of the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration, World Resources Institute (WRI) recently updated its Atlas of Forest Landscape Restoration Opportunities. We found that more than 2 billion hectares of land worldwide have the potential to be restored—and many of them are located in some unexpected places.

What Do We Mean by Restoration?

As we noted in a recent blog post, restoration isn’t just about planting trees—it involves improving the productivity of landscapes that are deforested or degraded. Through a geospatial analysis involving dozens of datasets ranging from population density to land cover to climate, we produced a global map showing where deforested and degraded forest areas have the greatest potential to be restored. The map classifies the type of restoration opportunity using three main categories:

  • Wide-scale restoration aims to restore dense forests to the landscape. This type of restoration is most feasible in deforested or degraded landscapes with low population density (< 10 people/km2) that are also areas where forests formerly dominated the landscape.
  • Mosaic restoration integrates trees into mixed-use landscapes, such as agricultural lands and settlements. This is the most common opportunity. Trees in these regions can support people by improving water quality, increasing soil fertility and boosting other ecosystem services. This type of restoration works best in deforested or degraded landscapes with moderate population density (10 - 100 people/km2).
  • Remote restoration is reserved for deforested or degraded areas that are completely unpopulated and located far away from human settlements, such as northern Canada and Siberia. The reduced density of forests in these areas is likely due to fire and pests rather than human interventions, and their remoteness makes them a more costly, lower-priority restoration opportunity.

Where Can We Find Restoration Opportunities?

On a continental scale, Africa has the greatest area of opportunity for both wide-scale and mosaic restoration. At more than 720 million hectares, this area is roughly equivalent to the entire opportunity area for North and South America combined.

But there are also several unexpected countries that offer significant restoration opportunities. These seven places are surprising because we don’t think of them as being forested in the traditional sense—their forests having long been cleared for other land uses–but their potential for restoration is great:

[slideshow_deploy id='351599']

Building a Restoration Movement

global map that highlights potential opportunities is just the starting point, however. National and sub-national analyses are needed to identify more precisely where restoration can take place and how it can be done. WRI, in partnership with IUCN, is already working on these detailed analyses. The newly-released Restoration Opportunity Assessment Methodology Handbook provides an overview of how we are approaching these assessments and helping to create a roadmap toward large-scale restoration throughout the world.

By capitalizing on the world’s bounty of restoration opportunities, we can ensure that forest landscapes realize their full potential for productivity and biodiversity.

--------

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Schwarzenegger's Financial to Palm Oil and Deforestation Revel Hypocrisy of Role in 'Years of Living Dangerously'

5 Deforestation Hotspots Flying Under the Radar

9 Maps That Analyze the World's Forests

--------

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

One of the 25 new Long Beach Transit hybrid gasoline-electric buses on April 23, 2009. Jeff Gritchen / Digital First Media / Orange County Register / Getty Images

In Long Beach, California, some electric buses can charge along their route without cords or wires.

When a bus reaches the Pine Avenue station, it parks over a special charging pad. While passengers get on and off, the charger transfers energy to a receiver on the bottom of the bus.

Read More Show Less
Semi trucks travel along I94 on June 21 near Lake forest, Illinois. Scott Olson / Getty Images

The Trump administration pushed through an exemption to clean air rules, effectively freeing heavy polluting, super-cargo trucks from following clean air rules. It rushed the rule without conducting a federally mandated study on how it would impact public health, especially children, said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Inspector General Charles J. Sheehan in a report released yesterday, as the AP reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

A time-restricted eating plan provides a new way to fight obesity and metabolic diseases that affect millions of people worldwide. RossHelen / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Satchin Panda and Pam Taub

People with obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure or high cholesterol are often advised to eat less and move more, but our new research suggests there is now another simple tool to fight off these diseases: restricting your eating time to a daily 10-hour window.

Read More Show Less
Kunhui Chih / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Plastic debris washed up on remote islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans has killed hermit crabs, which mistake the plastic for shells, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
A man and his dog walk past an H&M store in Stockholm, Sweden on March 11, 2014. Melanie Stetson Freeman / The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

By Ashutosh Pandey

H&M's flagship store at the Sergels Torg square in Stockholm is back in business after a months-long refurbishment. But it's not exactly business as usual here.

Read More Show Less