Step back from the forest and step up to the Bonn Challenge: how a broad ecological perspective can promote successful landscape restoration

Temperton, V. et al. | Restoration Ecology | 2019 | Peer Reviewed | Perspective |


We currently face both an extinction and a biome crisis embedded in a changing climate. Many biodiverse ecosystems are being lost at far higher rates than they are being protected or ecologically restored. At the same time, natural climate solutions offer opportunities to restore biodiversity while mitigating climate change. The Bonn Challenge is a U.N. programme to restore biodiversity and mitigate climate change through restoration of the world’s degraded landscapes. It provides an unprecedented chance for ecological restoration to become a linchpin tool for addressing many environmental issues. Unfortunately, the Forest and Landscape Restoration programme that underpins the Bonn Challenge, as its name suggests, remains focused on trees and forests, despite rising evidence that many non-forest ecosystems also offer strong restoration potential for biodiversity and climate mitigation. We see a need for restoration to step back to be more inclusive of different ecosystem types and to step up to provide integrated scienti c knowledge to inform large-scale restoration. Stepping back and up will require assessments of where to restore what species, with recognition that in many landscapes multiple habitat types should be restored. In the process, trade-offs in the delivery of different ecosystem services (e.g. carbon, biodiversity, water, albedo, livestock forage) should be clearly addressed. We recommend that biodiversity safeguards be included in policy and implemented in practice, to avoid undermining the biophysical relationships that provide ecosystem resilience to climate change. For ecological restoration to contribute to international policy goals will require integrated large-scale science that works across biome boundaries.