Optimizing investments in national-scale forest landscape restoration in Uganda to maximize multiple benefits

Gourevitch J. D. et al. | Environmental Research Letters | 2016 | Peer Reviewed | Original research | https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/11/11/114027


Forest loss and degradation globally has resulted in declines in multiple ecosystem services and reduced habitat for biodiversity. Forest landscape restoration offers an opportunity to mitigate these losses, conserve biodiversity, and improve human well-being. As part of the Bonn Challenge, a global effort to restore 350 million hectares of deforested and degraded land by 2030, over 30 countries have recently made commitments to national forest landscape restoration. In order to achieve these goals, decision-makers require information on the potential benefits and costs of forest landscape restoration to efficiently target investments. In response to this need, we developed an approach using a suite of ecosystem service mapping tools and a multi-objective spatial optimization technique that enables decision-makers to estimate the potential benefits and opportunity costs of restoration, visualize tradeoffs associated with meeting multiple objectives, and prioritize where restoration could deliver the greatest benefits. We demonstrate the potential of this approach in Uganda, one of the nations committed to the Bonn Challenge. Using maps of the potential benefits and costs of restoration and efficiency frontiers for optimal restoration scenarios, we were able to communicate how ecosystem services benefits vary spatially across the country and how different weights on ecosystem services objectives can affect the allocation of restoration across Uganda. This work provides a generalizable approach to improve investments in forest landscape restoration and illuminates the tradeoffs associated with alternative restoration strategies.