Balancing economic costs


Balancing economic costs

Balancing economic costs and ecological outcomes of passive and active restoration in agricultural landscapes: the case of Brazil

Pedro H. S. Brancalion, Daniella Schweizer, Ulysse Gaudare, Julia R. Mangueira, Fernando Lamonato, Fabiano T. Farah, Andre G. Nave and Ricardo R. Rodrigues

BIOTROPICA 48(6): 856–867 2016


Forest restoration requires strategies such as passive restoration to balance financial investments and ecological outcomes. However, the ecological outcomes of passive restoration are traditionally regarded as uncertain. We evaluated technical and legal strategies for balancing economic costs and ecological outcomes of passive versus active restoration in agricultural landscapes. We focused in the case of Brazil, where we assessed the factors driving the proportion of land allocated to passive and active restoration in 42 programs covering 698,398 hectares of farms in the Atlantic Forest, Atlantic Forest/cerrado ecotone and Amazon; the ecological outcomes of passive and active restoration in 2955 monitoring plots placed in six restoration programs; and the legal framework developed by some Brazilian states to balance the different restoration approaches and comply with legal commitments. Active restoration had the highest proportion of land allocated to it (78.4%), followed by passive (14.2%) and mixed restoration (7.4%). Passive restoration was higher in the Amazon, in silviculture, and when remaining forest cover was over 50 percent. Overall, both restoration approaches showed high levels of variation in the ecological outcomes; nevertheless, passively restored areas had a smaller percentage canopy cover, lower species density, and less shrubs and trees (dbh > 5 cm). The studied legal frameworks considered land abandonment for up to 4 years before deciding on a restoration approach, to favor the use of passive restoration. A better understanding of the biophysical and socioeconomic features of areas targeted for restoration is needed to take a better advantage of their natural regeneration potential.

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