Conservation efforts work better when pooled

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Pooling conversation efforts in key areas provides better species protection and carbon sequestration potential compared to individual farm-based efforts, say an international team of researchers including Australians. In 2012, Brazil brought in a new law requiring one-fifth of farming land to have native vegetation on it. The researchers compared whether they'd see more conservation benefits from a large-scale restoration project in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest than with individual farmer action. They found when land is restored in bulk it costs half as much and the vegetation can harbour more species and suck twice as much carbon from the atmosphere.

Journal/conference: Nature Ecology & Evolution

DOI: 10.1038/s41559-018-0743-8

Organisation/s: The University of Queensland, RMIT University, Pontifícia Universida de Católica, Brazil

Funder: The authors acknowledge the support and inputs from the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment, the Secretariat of the Convention of Biological Diversity and experts from the Intergovernmental Science—Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

Media Release

From: Springer Nature

Strategic approaches to restoring ecosystems can triple conservation gains and halve costs


International commitments for ecosystem restoration add up to one-quarter of the world’s arable land. Fulfilling them would ease global challenges such as climate change and biodiversity decline but could displace food production and impose financial costs on farmers.

Here, we present a restoration prioritization approach capable of revealing these synergies and trade-offs, incorporating ecological and economic efficiencies of scale and modelling specific policy options. Using an actual large-scale restoration target of the Atlantic Forest hotspot, we show that our approach can deliver an eightfold increase in cost-effectiveness for biodiversity conservation compared with a baseline of non-systematic restoration.

A compromise solution avoids 26% of the biome’s current extinction debt of 2,864 plant and animal species (an increase of 257% compared with the baseline). Moreover, this solution sequesters 1 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent (a 105% increase) while reducing costs by US$28 billion
(a 57% decrease). Seizing similar opportunities elsewhere would offer substantial contributions to some of the greatest challenges
for humankind.


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