RESEARCH: Identifying global priority areas for ecosystem restoration to maximize benefits to humans, wildlife and climate

Targets for ecosystem restoration are usually specified in terms of the total area to be restored. A global analysis reveals that the benefits and costs of achieving such targets depend greatly on where this restoration occurs.

The declaration by the United Nations of 2021–30 as the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is drawing worldwide attention to the challenge of restoring natural ecosystems that have been degraded or converted (for agricultural use, for example).

Ecosystem restoration targets already feature prominently in global and national policy frameworks aimed at limiting ongoing biodiversity loss and climate change. These targets are set mainly in terms of the total area or percentage of land to be restored.

But how can this restoration effort be best distributed spatially to maximize benefits for both biodiversity conservation and efforts to tackle climate change?

Writing in Nature, Strassburg et al. address this crucial question across all of Earth’s biomes (broad zones of vegetation adapted to particular climates).

To do this, they analyze data on the benefits and costs of restoration, using information assembled at high spatial resolution across the entire global land surface.

Photo of deforested countryside in Madagascar is by mika mamy from Pixabay.

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