Seeding ecological restoration of tropical forests: Priority setting under REDD+

Seeding ecological restoration of tropical forests: Priority setting under REDD+


Tropical deforestation continues to be the major driver of biodiversity loss and a considerable contributor to climate change. Increasing numbers of forest-dependent rural poor rely on degraded forest for their livelihoods. Ecological restoration of tropical forests has the potential to not only contribute to biodiversity conservation and climate mitigation, but also poverty alleviation. REDD+ provides a potentially powerful mechanism for supporting ecological restoration of tropical forests in developing countries.

Research goals & methods

This paper focuses on three seed-related ecological traits of tropical trees which limit the likelihood of natural regeneration of degraded secondary forest or the recovery of abandoned agricultural land. These factors may also provide significant constraints to restoration through direct seeding and planting. A comprehensive review of 367 papers was conducted to evaluate masting phenology, seed storage and seed dispersal distances across important tropical timber tree families focusing on the implications of these seed-related traits for ecological restoration of tropical forests and its integration into the REDD+ framework. Phenological monitoring, targeted nursery capacity building with a focus on recalcitrant and threatened timber species, the promotion of trees within the agricultural matrix, and conservation of remnant trees, are all important considerations.

Conclusions & takeaways

Decisions on when and how forest restoration activities should be implemented will require a detailed understanding of the ecological and socioeconomic context of the particular region. There is a major gap in our understanding of seed dispersal in heterogeneous landscapes, which must be addressed if we are to develop sustainable strategies for restoration in human dominated landscapes.


Kettle CJ. Seeding ecological restoration of tropical forests: Priority setting under REDD$\mathplus$. Biological Conservation. 2012;154:34–41. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2012.03.016.


  • Department of Environmental Science, ETH Zurich, CHN G75.1, Universitaetstrasse 16, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland