Reforestation: Knowing When to Let Nature Take its Course


In forest restoration, letting nature take its course may be the most effective and least expensive means of restoring the biodiversity and vegetation structure of tropical forests, according to a new study by an international team of researchers, including UConn ecology and evolutionary biology professor emerita Robin Chazdon.

The study, which concluded that active interventions are not always the best route for forest regeneration, was published today in Science Advances.

There is currently a global effort to pledge 350 million hectares of degraded forest for restoration by 2030. Although this is a big commitment, Chazdon and her colleagues say it doesn’t need to be as costly or labor-intensive as many think.

Intervening and restoring deforested and degraded forest areas can be accomplished through many different activities. Some interventions are more active and costly, such as planting nursery stock, whereas other interventions are more passive, such as spontaneous or assisted natural regeneration.

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Image via Robin Chazdon, University of Connecticut