Abstracts – Day 1

Session 1: Planting for carbon – successes and challenges from across the globe

Can we plant our way out of the climate crisis? 

Lewis, S. L.1,2 

1University College London, UK; 2University of Leeds, UK 

Given that almost 50% of the dry weight of a tree is carbon, there is burgeoning interest in increasing the number of trees on landscapes to mitigate climate change. But tree species and environmental conditions differ, meaning the role of tree planting and forest restoration is not as straightforward as some advocates suggest.. Furthermore, landscapes usually need to offer many benefits to many people rather than maximising only carbon storage, suggesting trade-offs. In the scene-setting talk, I ask: How much carbon could we store in new forests? How stable will this carbon storage be? What else needs to change to make globally significant carbon uptake happen? What is the international community currently doing to increase forest cover, and how could these efforts be improved? Overall, I emphasise that more forest cover is an essential component to both stabilising the Earth’s climate and halting biodiversity losses, but many pitfalls need to be navigated to realise these goals. 


Maximizing biodiversity and carbon recovery in tropical forest restoration 

Brancalion, P. H. S.1 & Holl, K. D.²

1University of São Paulo, Brazil; 2University of California, Santa Cruz, USA 

Ecosystem restoration can deliver many potential benefits to nature and people, and decision-makers want to get them all. However, there are many trade-offs that prevent maximising multiple restoration benefits in the same initiative, which have resulted in large discrepancies between project objectives and on-the-ground achievements. Here, I will explore the alternatives to maximise biodiversity and carbon recovery in tropical forest restoration, focused on case studies from the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. First, I will explore the critical importance of deciding where to restore, based on multi-scale examples of restoration prioritisation analyses. Then, I’ll explore the different ways to restore tropical forests that could maximise carbon and biodiversity recovery, focusing on the use of mixed plantations of exotic and native species, the use of herbicides, the appropriate selection of native tree species, and passive-active restoration approaches. Although an inevitable conclusion will be that we cannot maximise all restoration benefits in the same initiative, I expect to demonstrate that there is a huge opportunity to develop innovative restoration approaches to foster biodiversity co-benefits in carbon-centred restoration programs. 


Where is the evidence needed for land restoration?  

Chomba, S.1, Vagen, T.1, Winowiecki, L. A.1, Hughes, K.1, Oduol, J.1, Kegode, H.1, Mieke, B.1 & Sinclair, F.1,2 

1World Agroforestry (ICRAF), Kenya; 2Bangor University, UK  

Evidence to guide the design and implementation of restoration initiatives remains scarce, hampering achievement of national and global targets. Data from the Regreening Africa project, implemented across eight countries reveals that: (i) the biophysical characteristics of areas being restored (soil organic carbon, soil erosion prevalence and fractional vegetation cover) vary greatly within and across sites, conditioning what restoration options are appropriate; (ii) a diversity of native species are found in fields and across landscapes, despite tree-planting initiatives promoting only a few, mostly exotic, species; (iii) farm income is declining, and the contribution of forests and trees is modest; (iv) there is a positive correlation between the adoption of land restoration practices and wealth; and (v) trees are often important for women but intra-household equity in decision-making is often skewed in favor of men. Synthesis of these data and experiences identify an urgent need to co-develop restoration initiatives with local stakeholders that: (i) promote a diversity of restoration practices, including a diversity of native tree species suited to local ecology and farmer preferences; (ii) increase household income through value addition from sustainable value chains for tree products and provision of ecosystem services, that catalyse behaviour change and offer tangible benefits to rural households; and (iii) ensure restoration benefits reach the poorest, including landless people, and enhance social equity, especially with respect to gender. A farmer-centered, evidence-based, approach to land restoration is required, implying a need for transformation in how local, national and global actors perceive, fund, implement and monitor restoration. 


Utilising the UK Woodland Carbon Code to address climate change 

Dudley, L. A. 

Woodland Trust, UK 

The Woodland Trust have been enabled by the Woodland Carbon Code to deliver their aspirations in terms of climate change, biodiversity loss and woodland creation. Woodland creation has been depressed in the UK since changes in the tax regime in 1988, following which the UK Government chose to address woodland creation outputs through grant mechanisms which have often been only marginally attractive to landowners. Since the creation of the UK Woodland Carbon Code in 2011 and, alongside Government targets to achieve both a target to create 30,000 hectares of woodland every year and be carbon neutral by 2050, considerable interest has been generated in the Woodland Carbon Code. The market is developing apace and enabling increased planting rates. Currently, many woods and landscapes are undergoing accelerated change due to the impacts of tree diseases and pests and the effects of climate change. This paper seeks to present a balance between privately financed opportunities, with their drive for carbon neutrality, and conservation outcomes – to support our vision of a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife. As well as exploring the opportunities that exist through the Carbon Code, it is explained how the Woodland Trust are looking to the future to address its limitations. 


Challenges of community-based forest landscape restoration, with a case study on the Biliran Project, Philippines 

Herbohn, J.1, Gregorio, N., Ota, L., Scudder, M., Pasa, A. & Applegate, G. 

1Forest Research Institute, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia; 2Visayas State University, Philippines 

Forest and landscape restoration projects in the tropics are often implemented by communities or smallholders who are dependent on forests or agriculture for their livelihoods. In this presentation we draw upon our experiences in designing and implementing a pilot reforestation project in the Philippines, which was based upon 15 years of research to design better practices. We outline five key messages, namely: (1) there is a complex range of factors that affect the success of community forestry groups; (2) not all communities have the same capacity to implement restoration; (3) extended periods of support are essential for community forestry groups with low to medium capacity; (4) there is a need to match reforestation type with community capacity; and (5) social capital is the key capacity to develop first within communities. In the presentation we outline the concept of community capacity to undertake reforestation projects and how this capacity is related to the likelihood of project success using the ‘community capacity reforestation curve’ which we have developed as a conceptual framework. 

Session 2: The right trees in the right place – natives vs exotics  

The use of native and exotic species in large-scale tree planting in Madagascar 

Raharinirina, B. V. 

Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Madagascar 

In Madagascar, the decline in forest cover has been observed over decades for various reasons including human activities. Of the 14 million ha of forest estimated in 1990, only around 9 million hectares remain. However, the forest is vital for the Malagasy population. More than 90% of energy comes from fuelwood and almost 95% of Malagasy households use wood as an energy source. The impact of deforestation is detrimental because of its role in regulating the water regime, not to mention agricultural use. Restitution of the lost forest is therefore needed to make up for lost resources, to increase carbon capture capacity and improve livelihoods. As such, the General State Policy has set out to reforest at least 40,000 ha each year. Madagascar has fixed a target to restore 4 million hectares of forest landscapes by 2030, under the BONN Challenge. The Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development has developed the concept of useful and local reforestation to honor this target. The goal is to mobilise all stakeholders and citizens to participate in reforestation actions. Educating the population in reforestation actions is a priority as it is essential to develop useful species planting. For the restoration of degraded forest, we use native species to enrich floristic diversity according to plants succession. To meet energy and construction wood demands, we must plant fast-growing species. Then, watershed and landscape restoration appears on mapping. To protect these spaces against soil erosion, we need to cover them rapidly with species of scrub as Grevillea baknsii. Plantations of fast-growing species and fruit species can meet the needs of local people. To have more success in reforestation, all steps must be known by the different stakeholders (including local communities, educational establishments and the private and public sectors) from the choice of species to plant, and nursery and seedling production, to the maintenance of plants planted. High intensity of labor (HIMO) can provide green work to local communities and reduce costs. Many approaches are used to mobilise actors in reforestation e.g. the "one child, one tree" concept, partnerships with the private sector, and development of corporate social responsibility.


The problem of invasive alien trees in the Fynbos Biome, South Africa and the implications for restoration 

Holmes, P. M.1,2

1Cape Ecological Services; 2Department of Conservation Ecology & Entomology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa 

For over a century, exotic trees in the genera Eucalyptus, Pinus and Acacia have been used in plantation forestry to fulfil the timber needs of the country. Unfortunately, many of these trees have become invasive, particularly in the Fynbos and Grassland biomes but also in certain habitats of other biomes, such as along Nama Karoo watercourses. Most of the invasive trees are pre-adapted to the succession driver in the invaded ecosystem, such as fire in Fynbos shrublands, and this provides their invasion window. Invasion by alien trees is one of the greatest threats to Fynbos biodiversity and impacts negatively on key ecosystem services, such as water provisioning and pollination. Without intervention, invasive alien trees spread and dominate, ultimately resulting in local extinctions and thus preventing ecosystem adaptation to climate change. The costs of removing alien trees are massive and beyond the budgets of most conservation agencies. The costs of subsequent active restoration interventions to return a diverse, structurally representative plant community are substantially higher. Nevertheless, research has shown that the timeous clearance of even dense alien stands can result in successful spontaneous succession from native soil-stored propagules. If alien tree clearing is delayed beyond one fire cycle however, Fynbos recruitment is poor and costs of restoration escalate. The density and duration of invasion are key to understanding thresholds to natural recovery. Other factors that influence recovery potential include the dominant invader species, vegetation type, quality of initial alien clearance and proximity to native and secondary invader species’ propagules. 


Progress with a reforestation trial of African indigenous rainforest species in Republic of Congo 

Cheek, M.1, Mberi, P.2 , Lager, F.2, Mpandzou, A.3 & Hands, M.4 

1Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK; 2MPD Congo, Congo; 3Université Marien Ngouabi, Congo; 4Inga Foundation, UK 

In 2012, an experiment was initiated at the Zanaga project in the Massif du Chaillu, Republic of Congo, to test the hypothesis that indigenous tree species with potential for agroforestry could be used to reforest areas of long-established, fire maintained secondary grassland resulting from repeated slash and burn of forest. Indigenous tree species from adjoining forest were selected from a comprehensive botanical checklist of Zanaga. Three principal characteristics were screened for: potential for nitrogen fixation, ability to regrow after pollarding and, production of large, coriaceous leaves. A shortlist of 14 species was produced. Seed was collected and sown in a dedicated project nursery, the seedlings raised in polypots. Seedling planting began at a trial site chosen for being representative of degraded, Pteridium-infested, secondary grassland on highly acidic (pH 4), nutrient-poor soils. Plantings were made in 2012 and 2013, in alleys 3.5 m apart, in-row spacings 0.5 m. In the first two years, regular weeding and clearance of pioneers was needed until the trees produced enough shade, “closing the canopy”, to kill the grassland species. After seven years, about 1 ha remained intact, with 12 single-species parcels in good condition, with eight species: Millettia versicolor, Millettia laurentii, Pentaclethra macrophylla, Parkia bicolor, Bobgunnia fistuloides, Erythrophleum suaveolens, Albizia adiantifolia and Pterocarpus soyauxii. Within the shade created, indigenous forest species had spontaneously re-established themselves, including some indicators of good quality forest, but also pioneer tree species, such as Harungana madagascariensis which, unless removed, competed with the planted trees. 


Restoring the flora and fauna in the semi-deciduous Atlantic Forest of Brazil 

Diniz Jr., G. M.& Baqueiro, L. H. R.

1Araribá Botanic Garden, Brazil; 2GAEA, Brazil 

From observing degraded areas of the semi-deciduous seasonal forest of the Atlantic Forest and identifying the intense interaction between fauna and flora in the ecosystems, ecological restoration was promoted through Nucleation and Natural Regeneration Systems. During this process, animals that started visiting these areas frequently were identified, and, among them, which were part of this ecosystem. Therefore, food-supplying tree species and pioneer species, that quickly provide shade and serve as shelter for the identified fauna, were selected for reintroduction as a way to contribute to the restoration of ecosystem functions. Not only did the expected increase in the presence of the fauna and the consequent contribution of seeds from hundreds of plant species occur, but a change in climatic conditions and the emergence of new sources of water over a short period (three to five years) was also observed. The improvement of the physical structure and the increase in the availability of soil micronutrients were also noted and studied. The process is in its third phase and is being carried out through projects supported by BGCI, Global Trees Campaign (GTC) and Franklinia Foundation, promoting the enrichment of tree species diversity with the reintroduction of endangered tree species in these environments. The project areas now provide ideal conditions to receive trees that, in the process of plant succession, are late secondary and grow when the environment is more shaded, humid and offers a more regenerated soil, rich with organic nutrients. 


The framework species method: The concept and its efficacy for restoring tropical forest ecosystems 

Shannon, D. P.1, Elliott, S.1, Tucker, N. I. J.2 & Tiansawat, P.1 

1Chiang Mai University, Thailand; 2Biotropica Australia PTY LTD, Australia 

With enthusiasm for tropical forest restoration at an all-time high, there has never been a more urgent need for cost-efficient forest restoration techniques of proven effectiveness. One of the ‘active’ restoration techniques, used successfully to accelerate forest succession in the tropics, is the framework species method (FSM). The term ‘framework species method’ was first coined by Nigel Tucker from observations he made during early restoration trials in Queensland’s wet tropics region, Australia. It has subsequently been implemented where restoration of indigenous tropical forest ecosystems is the ultimate goal. The essential characteristics of framework tree species are: i) high survival and growth in the exposed conditions of deforested sites; and ii) attractiveness to seed-dispersing animals. Several other traits are relevant. In Thailand, the FSM concept has been successfully applied for restoring biodiversity to upland evergreen forest ecosystems in the north and to conserve endangered species in lowland evergreen forest in the south. A mixture of 20–30 tree species, including both pioneer and climax species, are selected to complement natural regeneration — directing and accelerating it towards the target forest ecosystem. A minimum of 3–5 years, with secure funding, is needed to establish a self-sustainable native forest ecosystem. The FSM concept is adaptable to various circumstances and to meet various local needs. However, nursery and field trials are essential components for success and are both time-consuming and expensive. In Southeast Asia, few forests exist far from local communities, so forest restoration must yield tangible benefits to the local people, to ensure social acceptability, long-term ecosystem integrity and human well-being.