Forest restoration projects and biodiversity

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The International Day for Biological Diversity 2011: Forest Biodiversity


Tree genetic diversity is key to success for forest restoration projects

The importance of forests to climatic stability and biodiversity is widely understood, and reflected in the surge of interest in recent decades in large-scale forest restoration projects. The latest such plans are extremely ambitious, requiring significant levels of investment: the Bonn Challenge, for example, brings together international commitments to restore 150 million hectares of lost forests and degraded lands worldwide by 2020; Initiative 20×20 aims to restore 20 million hectares by 2020 in Latin America and India’s Green Mission aims to restore 5 million hectares.

While the potential gains from reforesting landscapes are substantial, there is a need to confront the often disappointing reality: to date, many restoration projects have achieved only limited success, or have failed completely. The reasons for this are complex and not fully understood; there has been little by way of rigorous evaluation of the success factors for restoration projects. However a review of the studies that have been conducted has revealed important insights into the effect of tree genetics on the chances of success, and offers valuable pointers for future tree planting projects.

Projects designed to return degraded land to natural forest, with associated improvements in ecological function and biodiversity, rightly focus on native tree species. The review suggests that a deeper level of ecological awareness and a more nuanced approach to tree selection than have been previously deployed could help to attain the desired outcome of resilient, self-sustaining forest ecosystems.

Writing in a special edition of the Forest Ecology & Management journal, as part of the Forest Genetic Resources series, scientists report that inadequate attention to genetic considerations in choosing planting material can have an adverse impact on outcomes.

Even native tree species can be genetically ill-matched to the environmental conditions at the restoration site if the planting material is not well chosen. This can result in a deleterious effect on the trees’ growth, potential for survival and reproductive success.

Read the full story: Bioversity International

Severe droughts may lead to widespread losses of biodiversity, but …

Photo credit: Nature World News


After a recent butterfly census and combination of climate and other data were totaled, researchers say that several breeds could fall to the wayside by 2050 if habitat restoration and carbon reduction are not exacted. (Photo : wikipedia commons )

Climate Change and Drought: Butterfly Loss May Be Widespread By 2050

By Catherine Arnold

The scenarios we take for granted–butterflies that settle on garden flowers and allow their delicate wings to slow and then stop; bright or white pollinators migrating in large numbers–could drop off dramatically by 2050 in the U.K., report researchers from the Center for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), University of Exeter, Butterfly Conservation and Natural England, in a study recently published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

In their findings, the scientists report that severe droughts will lead to widespread losses, but that if greenhouse gas emissions are substantially reduced and landscapes managed well to reduce habitat fragmentation, maybe butterflies will continue pollinating and flying until at least 2100, a release noted.

Read the full article: Nature World News

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