Restoring the world's forests requires partnering with local communities

August 25, 2020

Global forest restoration is a critical strategy for removing carbon from the atmosphere but its success depends on empowering local communities, according to a new study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution .

Focusing on tropical forest restoration, the study highlights the critical importance of partnering with indigenous people and local communities to ensure the success of forest restoration for sequestering carbon, conserving biodiversity and contributing to local livelihoods. Previous studies have often sought to quantify where forest restoration might occur, without considering who lives there and what their lives might be like.

This research is one of the most comprehensive to examine opportunities for tropical forest restoration in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania (the "Global South) in relation to country-level populations and development. Based on estimates, the findings demonstrate that 294.5 million people live within areas with good potential for tropical forest restoration, and that over one billion people live nearby such land. In low income countries, nearly 12 percent of the population in this study live in areas considered important for forest restoration.

Countries which have often been understudied in past forest restoration research such as the Democratic People's Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Zambia, have a relatively high proportion of people living in forest restoration areas.

"Providing local communities with the right to manage forests where they live is critical to forest restoration efforts," said lead author James (J.T.) Erbaugh, a post-doctoral research fellow in environmental studies at Dartmouth College. "There are countless examples of how conservation projects-- though often well intentioned-- have excluded and disenfranchised indigenous peoples and local communities. Employing an inclusive approach to forest restoration is a just and sustainable way to address climate change, which can also help ensure the long-term viability of such initiatives," he added.

The Dartmouth-led study includes researchers from the Indian School of Business, the University of Manchester, the University of Sheffield, and the University of Michigan. The team drew on data from the Earth Innovation Institute, NASA, the Rights and Resources Initiative, the World Bank, and the World Resources Institute. The researchers examined: where tropical forest restoration opportunities exist in the tropics and the extent to which carbon can be removed from the atmosphere; the location and density of populations by country; nighttime light emittance; national income categories; and legal foundations for community forest managements rights, including whether a country recognized such rights.

"Our findings provide a path for further action on climate change, by identifying countries where investments in forest landscape restoration will create the highest synergies between mitigation and human development. Global efforts to accelerate forest regeneration must include local communities as equal partners," said co-author Ashwini Chhatre , a professor of public policy from the Indian School of Business.

As part of the Bonn Challenge by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, countries around the world are striving to meet their pledges to collectively restore 350 million hectares of forest area by 2030. The results of this study demonstrate that countries such as Brazil and Indonesia, have great potential to remove atmospheric carbon through forest restoration while also containing some of the most people living in areas important for forest restoration. "This challenge cannot be met effectively unless local communities are prioritized," added Erbaugh.
-end-
J.T. Erbaugh is available for comment at: james.t.erbaugh@dartmouth.edu.

Dartmouth College

Related Science Articles from Brightsurf:

75 science societies urge the education department to base Title IX sexual harassment regulations on evidence and science
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) today led 75 scientific societies in submitting comments on the US Department of Education's proposed changes to Title IX regulations.

Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, biopharma, and pharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2018 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.

Science in the palm of your hand: How citizen science transforms passive learners
Citizen science projects can engage even children who previously were not interested in science.

Applied science may yield more translational research publications than basic science
While translational research can happen at any stage of the research process, a recent investigation of behavioral and social science research awards granted by the NIH between 2008 and 2014 revealed that applied science yielded a higher volume of translational research publications than basic science, according to a study published May 9, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Xueying Han from the Science and Technology Policy Institute, USA, and colleagues.

Prominent academics, including Salk's Thomas Albright, call for more science in forensic science
Six scientists who recently served on the National Commission on Forensic Science are calling on the scientific community at large to advocate for increased research and financial support of forensic science as well as the introduction of empirical testing requirements to ensure the validity of outcomes.

World Science Forum 2017 Jordan issues Science for Peace Declaration
On behalf of the coordinating organizations responsible for delivering the World Science Forum Jordan, the concluding Science for Peace Declaration issued at the Dead Sea represents a global call for action to science and society to build a future that promises greater equality, security and opportunity for all, and in which science plays an increasingly prominent role as an enabler of fair and sustainable development.

PETA science group promotes animal-free science at society of toxicology conference
The PETA International Science Consortium Ltd. is presenting two posters on animal-free methods for testing inhalation toxicity at the 56th annual Society of Toxicology (SOT) meeting March 12 to 16, 2017, in Baltimore, Maryland.

Citizen Science in the Digital Age: Rhetoric, Science and Public Engagement
James Wynn's timely investigation highlights scientific studies grounded in publicly gathered data and probes the rhetoric these studies employ.

Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, pharma, and biopharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2016 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.

Three natural science professors win TJ Park Science Fellowship
Professor Jung-Min Kee (Department of Chemistry, UNIST), Professor Kyudong Choi (Department of Mathematical Sciences, UNIST), and Professor Kwanpyo Kim (Department of Physics, UNIST) are the recipients of the Cheong-Am (TJ Park) Science Fellowship of the year 2016.

Read More: Science News and Science Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.