Restoring forests: What constitutes success in the twenty-first century?


Restoring forests: What constitutes success in the twenty-first century?



Restoring forests: What constitutes success in the twenty-first century?

Douglass F. Jacobs, Juan A. Oliet, James Aronson, Andreas Bolte, James M. Bullock, Pablo J. Donoso, Simon M. Landhäusser, Palle Madsen, Shaolin Peng. José M. Rey-Benayas, John C. Weber

Abstract

Forest loss and degradation is occurring at high rates but humankind is experiencing historical momentum that favors forest restoration. Approaches to restoration may follow various paradigms depending on stakeholder objectives, regional climate, or the degree of site degradation. The vast amount of land requiring restoration implies the need for spatial prioritization of restoration efforts according to cost-benefit analyses that include ecological risks. To design resistant and resilient ecosystems that can adapt to emerging circumstances, an adaptive management approach is needed. Global change, in particular, imparts a high degree of uncertainty about the future ecological and societal conditions of forest ecosystems to be restored, as well as their desired goods and services. We must also reconsider the suite of species incorporated into restoration with the aim of moving toward more stress resistant and competitive combinations in the longer term. Non-native species may serve an important role under some circumstances, e.g., to facilitate reintroduction of native species. Propagation and field establishment techniques must promote survival through seedling stress resistance and site preparation. An improved ability to generalize among plant functional groups in ecological niche adaptations will help to overcome site-limiting factors. The magnitude and velocity of ongoing global change necessitates rapid responses in genetics that cannot be naturally induced at valid temporal and spatial scales. The capacity for new concepts and technologies to be adopted by managers and accepted by society will depend on effective technology transfer and a community-based approach to forest restoration. The many benefits human society gains from forests requires that forest restoration considers multiple objectives and approaches to minimize trade-offs in achieving these objectives.

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