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Ten golden rules for reforestation to optimize carbon sequestration, biodiversity recovery and livelihood benefits

February 12, 2021
News item image The 10 golden rules for reforestation complement the 4 NbS guidelines

Di Sacco and Hardwick et al. 2021

Over the past year a growing number of tree planting pledges have been made and projects initiated, most often motivated by contributing to climate change mitigation. Such investments in nature are welcomed by the nature-based solutions community, and if well designed and implemented they should contribute significantly to carbon sequestration and storage, whilst also supporting biodiversity and local people. However, poorly planned tree planting projects can have destructive effects on biodiversity, livelihoods and even increase carbon emissions. The authors of this paper, from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, UK, propose ten golden rules for successful forest restoration projects that avoid such pitfalls:

  1. Protect existing forest – whether old-growth, second-growth, degraded or planted – before planning reforestation.
  2. Fully involve all stakeholders and ensure that local people are integral to project planning.
  3. Aim to maximise benefits for biodiversity; this will support the long-term provision of other ecosystem services including carbon sequestration and storage.
  4. Select areas for reforestation that were previously forested and are connected to existing forests, and safeguard against displacing deforestation elsewhere.
  5. Use natural regeneration rather than planting where possible, since this is cheaper and usually more effective.
  6. Select species to plant with the aim of maximising biodiversity, and prioritise native species.
  7. Maximise the resilience of the plant community by ensuring appropriate genetic variation among seeds or using a diverse combination of provenances.
  8. Develop infrastructure, capacity and seed supply well in advance of initiating planting, and follow seed quality standards.
  9. Follow the best available ecological evidence and Indigenous knowledge, conduct trials, monitor success and manage adaptively.
  10. Create diverse, sustainable sources of income for stakeholders, such as carbon credits, non-timber forest products, ecotourism and marketable watershed services.

Read the paper here.