Ecological restoration success is higher for natural regeneration than for active restoration in tropical forests
This meta-analysis of 133 studies challenges the widely-held notion that active restoration methods are more effective at ecosystem restoration and hold higher conservation value than natural regeneration. Given the vast commitments for ecosystem restoration across the globe, and the high cost, effort, and resources needed for these commitments, this study proposes that increasing use of natural regeneration and assisted natural regeneration is necessary to achieve these commitments.
research goals & methods
The meta-analysis focused on tropical regions, looking at biodiversity and vegetation structure of restored areas. The analysis controlled for abiotic and biotic factors such as precipitation, soil degradation, lack of seed source, etc., meaning that sites unable to achieve natural regeneration because of those factors do not bias the overall findings.
conclusions & takeaways
The study demonstrates that restoration success, in terms of biodiversity and vegetation structure, is higher for natural regeneration sites than for active restoration sites when abiotic and biotic factors are controlled for. It is also significantly less costly and holds more potential for scaling up and achieving large-scale commitments.
Ecological restoration success is higher for natural regeneration than for active restoration in tropical forests. Science Advances. 2017;3:e1701345. doi:10.1126/sciadv.1701345.
- International Institute for Sustainability, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
- Rio Conservation and Sustainability Science Centre, Department of Geography and the Environment, Pontifícia Universidade Católica, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
- Programa de Pós Graduação em Ecologia, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
- Laboratory of Vertebrates, Department of Ecology, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
- Mestrado Profissional em Ciências do Meio Ambiente, Universidade Veiga de Almeida, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
- Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, USA.
- Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.
- Department of Environmental Sciences, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
- Faculty of Production and Power Engineering, Institute of Agricultural Engineering and Informatics, University of Agriculture in Krakow, Krakow, Poland.
- School of Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.