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Global forest restoration and the importance of empowering local communities


Forest restoration is a crucial element in strategies to mitigate climate change and conserve global biodiversity in the coming decades, and much of the focus is on formerly tree-covered lands in the tropics.

But recent forest restoration research rarely acknowledges the social dimensions or environmental justice implications of such projects. A new study finds that nearly 300 million people in the tropics live on lands suitable for forest restoration, and about a billion people live within 5 miles of such lands. Many of these people live in poverty.

Just and equitable implementation of restoration projects will require that communities be empowered to manage and use local forests, according to the authors of the study published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. Community management of forest areas includes the rights to access the forests, withdraw forest resources, and manage lands for community benefit. MORE

Header image: Forest restoration opportunity areas in the tropics. (a) Forest restoration opportunity areas by estimated carbon removal, 2020 to 2050, under a scenario in which a moderate carbon tax is implemented to promote forest restoration. (b) Forest restoration opportunity areas by population density. (c) Forest restoration opportunity areas by country-level income categories. Credit: Erbaugh et al. in Nature Ecology & Evolution 2020.