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Nat Ecol Evol. 2019 Jan;3(1):62-70. doi: 10.1038/s41559-018-0743-8. Epub 2018 Dec 17.

Strategic approaches to restoring ecosystems can triple conservation gains and halve costs.

Author information

1
Rio Conservation and Sustainability Science Centre, Department of Geography and the Environment, Pontifícia Universidade Católica, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. b.strassburg@iis-rio.org.
2
International Institute for Sustainability, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. b.strassburg@iis-rio.org.
3
Programa de Pós Graduacão em Ecologia, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. b.strassburg@iis-rio.org.
4
Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia.
5
Rio Conservation and Sustainability Science Centre, Department of Geography and the Environment, Pontifícia Universidade Católica, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
6
International Institute for Sustainability, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
7
Programa de Pós Graduacão em Ecologia, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
8
Botanical Garden Research Institute of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
9
Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.
10
Department of Environmental Science, Instituto de Florestas, Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro, Seropédica, Brazil.
11
Departamento de Ciências Florestais-Esalq/USP, Piracicaba, Brazil.
12
Spatial Ecology and Conservation Lab, School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.
13
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, USA.
14
World Resources Institute, Global Restoration Initiative, Washington, DC, USA.
15
Department of Botanic, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
16
Stockholm Environment Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.
17
School of Global Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
18
Institute of Agricultural Engineering and Informatics, Faculty of Production and Power Engineering, University of Agriculture in Kraków, Kraków, Poland.
19
School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.
20
Laboratório de Biogeografia da Conservação, Departamento de Ecologia, Universidade Federal de Goiás, Goiânia, Brazil.
21
Department of Ecology, Institute of Biosciences, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.
22
Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London, Ascot, Berkshire, UK.
23
The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA, USA.
24
The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia.
25
Department of Biological Science, Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz, University of São Paulo, Piracicaba, Brazil.
26
Department of Ecosystems Conservation, Brazilian Ministry of the Environment (MMA), Brasília, Brazil.
27
The Brazilian Foundation for Sustainable Development, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
28
Centro de Engenharia, Modelagem e Ciências Sociais Aplicadas, Federal University of ABC, Santo André, Brazil.
29
Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.

Abstract

International commitments for ecosystem restoration add up to one-quarter of the world's arable land. Fulfilling them would ease global challenges such as climate change and biodiversity decline but could displace food production and impose financial costs on farmers. Here, we present a restoration prioritization approach capable of revealing these synergies and trade-offs, incorporating ecological and economic efficiencies of scale and modelling specific policy options. Using an actual large-scale restoration target of the Atlantic Forest hotspot, we show that our approach can deliver an eightfold increase in cost-effectiveness for biodiversity conservation compared with a baseline of non-systematic restoration. A compromise solution avoids 26% of the biome's current extinction debt of 2,864 plant and animal species (an increase of 257% compared with the baseline). Moreover, this solution sequesters 1 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent (a 105% increase) while reducing costs by US$28 billion (a 57% decrease). Seizing similar opportunities elsewhere would offer substantial contributions to some of the greatest challenges for humankind.

Comment in

PMID:
30568285
DOI:
10.1038/s41559-018-0743-8
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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