On the Restoration of High Diversity Forests: 30 years of Experience in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest

On the Restoration of High Diversity Forests: 30 years of Experience in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest


This review evaluates the restoration of Brazil's Atlantic forest by drawing from published and unpublished sources. Reforestation in Atlantic Brazil took place in phases: government-sponsored plantations predominated until 1982; a focus on native species plantations from 1982-1985; higher diversity of species used from 1985 to 2000; a focus on restoring process rather than copying the structure of natural forests from 2000-2003; and finally a conscious effort to improve intraspecific genetic diversity and seed acquisition from 2003 to today.

Research Goals & Methods

The authors describe the model for tree planting approached by the Laboratório de Ecologia e Restauração Florestal (LERF). In this project, a plantation was designed with ecological or succesional processes in mind. Fast growing trees of 15-30 species were planted in some rows to improve environmental conditions, control erosion, and suppress exotic weed growth. Additionally "diversity" rows of trees were planted of 70-80 species that represent late secondary or climax species to promote the longer term functional diversity of the system.

Conclusions & Takeaways

Continued monitoring is necessary but early findings suggest faster growth and more success than other plantation projects. The authors assert that public policies should be used more intensively to stimulate large scale reforestation efforts in the Brazilian Atlantic forest. However, there have been some positive public policy efforts in recent years. In 2003, federal laws encouraged increased and more diverse seedling production, and in 2005 a federal restoration fund was created to encourage projects and research on the Atlantic Forest. The authors suggest that restoration efforts in the Brazilian Amazon have demonstrated the need to approach restoration in different ways based on the site conditions. They recommend that forest managers "diagnose" the status of degradation and fragmentation and "prescribe" a restoration treatment that best fits with that diagnosis.



Rodrigues RR, Lima RAF, Gandolfi S, Nave AG. On the restoration of high diversity forests: 30 years of experience in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Biological Conservation. 2009;142:1242–1251. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2008.12.008.


  • Laboratório de Ecologia e Restauração Florestal (LERF), Departamento de Ciências Biológicas, ESALQ - Universidade de São Paulo, Piracicaba, São Paulo, Brazil