Ecological outcomes and livelihood benefits


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Ecological outcomes and livelihood benefits

Ecological outcomes and livelihood benefits of community-managed agroforests and second growth forests in Southeast Brazil

Saulo E. X. Franco de Souza, Edson Vidal, Germano de Freitas Chagas, Amelia T. Elgar and Pedro H. S. Brancalion

BIOTROPICA 48(6): 868–881 2016

Abstract

The Forest and Landscape Restoration movement has emerged as an approach to reconcile biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services provisioning and human well-being in degraded landscapes, but little is known so far about the potential of different reforestation methods to achieve these objectives. Based on this gap, we assessed the ecological outcomes and local livelihood benefits of community-managed agroforests and second growth forests to assist natural regeneration in the coastal Atlantic Forest of Brazil. We investigated and compared agroforests and secondary forests according to their structure and floristic composition in 51 circular plots of 314 m², their role in supporting local livelihoods (45 semi-structured interviews) and the use and cultural importance of plant species (61 interviews). Agroforests and, more remarkably, managed secondary forests (1) re-established a well-developed forest structure, with a higher density of tree-sized individuals and similar basal area compared to nearby old growth forests; (2) were composed by a rich array of native species, including five threatened species, but had lower species richness than old growth remnants; and (3) improved local livelihoods by supplying market valuable and culturally important plants, including 231 native ethnospecies. Overall, local production systems showed remarkable potential to engage smallholders of developing tropical countries in Forest and Landscape Restoration and contribute to achieve its overall goals. We advocate the promotion of these systems as effective Forest and Landscape Restoration approaches in multi- scale programs and policies.

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