15 ways to reforest the planet: UniSC research

By on November 14, 2022 0

International scientists are calling for a “decade of global action” to reforest the planet, following the overnight publication of a thematic international journal led by researchers at Australia’s University of the Sunshine Coast.

The historic issue of the Royal Society’s Philosophical Transactions reveals the latest scientific advances in restoring forests to benefit people as well as nature.

“This paves the way for evidence-based, on-the-ground action plans for the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration,” said Professor Andy Marshall of UniSC’s Forest Research Institute.

Prof Marshall said it was exciting to see the focus on forests at this week’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) taking place in Egypt, with Australia joining world leaders to commit to halting forest loss and land degradation by 2030.

He said the recommendations in the new issue of the journal combined research findings with knowledge and experience from many countries.

“Our goals are ambitious and aim to ensure long-term success by learning from the past – from choosing the right location and method of restoration to mitigating socio-economic pressures, extreme weather conditions and interactions between people and wildlife,” he said.

“Nearly 200 authors from 27 countries and the United Nations task force are working to ensure that these findings truly make a difference to forest restoration and inspire action around the world, especially in the developing tropics. where much of this research was undertaken.”

Professor Marshall’s lead article lists 15 key scientific advances to help restore the world’s forest landscapes.

“Forests are crucial to the health and economy of our planet, but they need to be better planned, managed and monitored to ensure lasting benefits for people as well as nature,” he said.

He said careful planning of future forestry projects could boost species biodiversity, carbon sinks, economic development and people’s livelihoods.

“The evidence lends scientific support to campaigns by environmental groups using the banner, Plantations are not forests – recognizing that planting trees is not always the right approach to restoration, and that restoration must take into account underlying ecology, local people and ultimate reasons for planting the trees.

UniSC is involved in seven of the collaborative papers, leading five of them:

  • Fifteen essential scientific advances for effective restoration of the world’s forest landscapes, by Professor Andrew Marshall and colleagues;
  • Monitoring the recovery of tree diversity during the restoration of tropical forests in Costa Rica – lessons learned from long-term trajectories of natural regeneration, by Professor Robin Chazdon and colleagues;
  • Applying a community capacity curve framework to reforestation to support success in the Philippines, by Professor John Herbohn and colleagues;
  • A practice-oriented assessment of the potential for landscape restoration in a biodiversity hotspot in Tanzania, by Professor Marshall with Abigail Wills of the University of York and colleagues;
  • How certified community forests in Tanzania are impacting forest restoration and human well-being, by Dr Robin Loveridge of the University of York with project leader Prof Marshall and colleagues.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), Professor Ross Young, said UniSC’s contribution to the journal was an honor and showed the global relevance and expertise of its researchers.

“The University of the Sunshine Coast has been ranked the best university in Queensland in the 2022 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, which are the only global performance charts that rate universities against the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” did he declare.

“This success reflects UniSC’s longstanding commitment to sustainability research and climate action.”

Selection of other articles in the journal:

  • Implications of tropical cyclones on damage and potential recovery and restoration of logged forests in Vietnam;
  • How animal seed dispersal recovers within 40 years after passive restoration in a forest landscape;
  • How restoration success in ancient Amazonian mines depends on soil amendment and proximity to forest;
  • Evaluate tree restoration interventions for well-being and ecological outcomes in rural tropical landscapes, aimed at preventing conflicts such as large animals roaming crops and farms;
  • The impacts of forest fires on restoration, particularly in high moist eucalyptus forests.

Professor Marshall is also a Principal Investigator of FoRCE (Forest Restoration and Climate Experiment) and Founding Director of Reforest Africa. Link to his background story here.

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