Abstracts – Day 3

Session 6: Monitoring and new technologies 

Seven technological priorities for automating the restoration of tropical forest ecosystems 

Elliott, S. D.1, Gale, G.2 & Tiansawat, P.1 

1Forest Restoration Research Unit, Chiang Mai University, Thailand; 2Conservation Ecology Program, King Mongkut's University of Technology, Thailand 

Restoring tropical forests, on the large scales required by global tree-planting initiatives, is labour-intensive and expensive. Sites that are available for restoration are often inaccessible by motor vehicles and on rugged terrain. Therefore, automation of forest restoration tasks, mostly by using drones, is being actively addressed including: i) pre-restoration site surveys (for restoration planning) and post-restoration progress monitoring; ii) locating seed trees and automated seed collection; iii) aerial seeding by drone; and iv) automated weeding and fertilizer application. At a workshop in 2015 on ‘Automated Forest Restoration: could robots restore rainforests?’, technological developments needed to perform these tasks were prioritised. This presentation reviews those priorities, in light of advancements achieved over the past five years. The seven priorities presented are (in descending order of ranked importance): i) seed technologies to improve success of aerial seeding by drone; ii) exploitation of allelopathic plant compounds for the development of bioherbicides; iii) artificial intelligence (AI) systems for plant species recognition; iv) expansion of databases of plant variables for species selection, including image databases for AI species recognition; v) improved drone technologies, particularly power supplies; vi) improved technologies for monitoring recovery of animal populations post-restoration, particularly aerial thermal imagery; and vii) improved techniques to determine stages of degradation/restoration from drone imagery. 


Identifying and assessing potential areas for post-fire reforestation in Madagascar using drones  

Williams, J. J.  

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK 

Maintaining and restoring the integrity of intact natural forests may be as important as reducing and halting destructive deforestation. Traditional forest restoration is expensive and technically difficult when dependent on indigenous communities and local tree nurseries. Madagascar has an ambitious tree planting programme and, as a key biodiversity hotspot, it is imperative that native and diverse tree species are appropriately replanted. We trialled innovative restoration strategies for post-fire forest regeneration in the dry forest of Ankarafantsika National Park in Madagascar, which suffered extensive fires during the 2019 dry season (May to October). Focusing on the intensely burnt areas of forest which were identified from freely available satellite images, we surveyed three main areas in the National Park using low flying drones to identify fine-scale burns and assess situational suitability for future post-fire reforestation. Reforestation potential was primarily assessed using: proximity to intact forest (diverse seeds, dispersal agents, protection from disturbance), threats (illegal destruction, fire), accessibility (causing disturbance pathways or enabling protection/maintenance) and forest size (edge effects, natural seed dispersal, management). Three sites were separately identified for restoration, regeneration research and assisted regeneration (forest protection). In the future we hope to re-drone two post-burn restoration test areas, previously replanted from very limited native tree species, as well as these three proposed reforestation sites to assess volume changes in forest cover as well as the development of the tree canopy. Our results, combined with improved local tree flora knowledge and a community-based native tree nursery, will greatly strengthen the long-term forest restoration program. 


The TREEs knowledge platform: A collection of interlinked databases, maps, guidelines, R packages and other decision-support tools to guide planting of the 'right tree in the right place for the right purpose' 

Kindt, R.1, Dawson, I. K.1, Graudal, L.1,2 & Jamnadass, R.1 

1World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF), Kenya; 2University of Copenhagen, Denmark 

Forestry, agroforestry and forest landscape restoration are about more than planting trees. ICRAF’s (now CIFOR-ICRAF’s) tree knowledge platform comprises a wide range of interlinked databases, maps, R open-source software packages, guidelines and other decision-support tools to guide the planting – and survival – of the ‘right tree in the right place for the right purpose’, something that is fundamental to all tree-planting programmes conducted globally, including those in support of sustainable intensification and diversification of agro-ecosystems. Combined, these have been used millions of times, including a selection of databases that have been visited more than 385,000 times, training manuals that were downloaded more than 112,000 times and R software packages that were downloaded more than 2,787,000 times. Prominent among these are the Agroforestree database, the Agroforestry Tree Domestication primer, the ‘Switchboard’ (http://apps.worldagroforestry.org/products/switchboard), the vegan community ecology package, the BiodiversityR package, the www.vegetationmap4africa.org and the Tree Diversity Analysis manual for biodiversity and community ecology analysis. Recently developed tools, such as the Priority Food Tree and Crop Food Composition Database and the WorldFlora package, launched in 2019, are also starting to gain traction, whereas other new tools will be added in 2021, including the Food Portfolios for Family Nutrition and Year-round Food Security and the Useful Tree Species for Africa shinyapps and the AlleleShift R package. The tree knowledge platform enables users not only to select the right species, but also to bring knowledge to action by disseminating seeds and seedlings to thousands of smallholder farmers across the tropics. 


Tools to support forest restoration: Ensuring biodiversity is a core component 

Shaw, K.1, Rivers, M.2, Beech, E.2 & Smith, P.2 

1Botanic Gardens Conservation International, Kenya; 2Botanic Gardens Conservation International, UK 

Restoration and tree-planting pledges represent a huge opportunity for delivering species conservation and genetically and taxonomically diverse ecological restoration that benefits wildlife, at the same time as benefiting people and capturing carbon. However, with a lack of attention paid to species selection in planting programmes, this opportunity is often missed, and the current focus on large-scale exotic monoculture planting can cause more harm than good. This is of growing concern to the botanical community, who have a wealth of experience and expertise related to restoration. This presentation will share tools that have been developed by the botanical community that can help tree planters to shift towards an approach that benefits biodiversity. For example, GlobalTreeSearch, the first comprehensive list of the world’s tree species, can be used to determine which species are native to a particular country, a crucial first step. The Global Tree Assessment is putting conservation assessments in place for all the world’s tree species and can be used to identify which species should be incorporated into planting programmes as a matter of urgency to avoid species extinctions. Directories of expertise are connecting botanical experts to improve reforestation programmes on the ground, a wealth of training materials have been developed, and demonstration sites around the world provide training on delivering biodiverse forest restoration, whilst showcasing the benefits of species-diverse planting. This suite of tools can be applied by practitioners to help ensure the right trees are planted in the right place and significantly improve reforestation outcomes for biodiversity, people and climate. 


Geodata combined with an agroforestry model enable practitioners to quantify the development impact of improving tree genetics in Ethiopia 

van Schoubroeck, F.1, Pedercini, F.2,3 & Graudal, L.2,3 

1DIBcoop, The Netherlands; 2University of Copenhagen, Denmark; 3World Agroforestry, Kenya 

The Provision of Adequate Tree Seed Portfolios in Ethiopia (PATSPO) project aims to improve the overall quality of tree germplasm available in the country. Project supporters need to know impact through the performance of planted land during the decades that trees develop and are harvested. ICRAF with DIBcoop developed a Monitoring and Evaluation Protocol to project PATSPO’s ‘sustainable development’ impact. First, Business As Usual and Quality tree germplasm are defined in terms of potential biomass production, sensitivity to stresses, and product prices. Such definitions are stored as quantitative records in a tree and crop database. Next, likely target Land Restoration Options – such as wood lots, orchards or main farm fields – are defined in terms of the tree and crop cover. Such quantified Land Restoration Options (along with climate and soil variables) are processed through the FarmTree® agro-ecological model, which generates indicators for production, cash flow and environment, leading to 1-ha land performance projections. Next, geodata analysis indicates likely scaling of each Landscape Restoration Option and the BAU and Quality tree genetic resources therein, allowing projection of the impact of PATSPO. The thus provisionally implemented protocol indicates that with an investment of around US$ 8 million, seed improvement of Grevillea and Juniperus enable Landscape Restoration Projects to realise additional 180,000 tonnes biomass in target systems; conserve 80,000 tonnes of soil per year; increase the systems’ Net Present Value by €75 million; and create over 1,300 additional jobs in harvesting extra volumes; in the targeted 313,000 hectares. 

Session 7: Seed supply chain and seed use 

Making seed matter in reforestation and the role of International Standards 

Pedrini, S. & Dixon, K. W. 

Curtin University, Australia 

Rules 7 and 8 of the seminal ‘10 Golden Rules for Reforestation’ review (Di Sacco et al., 2021) highlight the pivotal role of effective collection, storage and deployment of native seed. Unlike agricultural seed where global standards regulate seed quality and ensure a robust and enduring seed supply network that is often global in the extent of the trade, the native seed supply chain in many countries is often fragmented and poorly regulated with limited to no standards. Most native seed programs are owner-operator businesses that are well intentioned but lack the clear guidance to ensure native seed is of the best achievable quality. As a result, high quality seed that ensures a robust business model for both suppliers and users of seed is often lacking, with the end result that restoration programs can often underperform simply because of poor seed control systems. Here we outline the newly published International Standards developed by an international drafting team for guiding native seed quality standards. The standards are devised to be internationally adaptable, flexible to take account of diversity of seed types and dormancy states in native seed, and capable of building regulatory frameworks and certification of native seed. In this way, the supply of high quality, value-for-money native seed will ensure that reforestation programs can deliver biodiverse outcomes that are cost-effective and build local economies in a robust and sustainable way. 


Native tree seed supply bottlenecks in Africa’s restoration projects  

Carsan, S.1, Dembele, C. K.2, Dawson, I.1,3, Muchugi, A.1, Lilleso, J. P.1,4, Graudal, L.1,4 & Jamnadass, R.1 

1World Agroforestry (ICRAF), Kenya; 2Institut de l’Environnement et de Recherches Agricoles (INERA), Burkina Faso; 3Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), UK; 4Section for Forest, Nature and Biomass, University of Copenhagen, Denmark 

Current initiatives to accelerate restoration, such as the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021–2030), stress the importance of planting native tree species. Restoration planners are, however, constrained on how to realise tree plantings with diverse native trees in heterogenous landscapes. Many potential restoration sites no longer have suitable tree seed sources, but restorationists assume that existing tree seed markets, tree nurseries, seed delivery infrastructures and advisory services on native tree species will be able to fill the gap. Experience from large restoration projects such as the EU’s Regreening Africa show that this is not the case. This is due to a range of factors: most native species have limited local demand for seed due to cultural beliefs that consider them as ‘naturally regenerated forest species’; there is a lack of credible national native tree seed suppliers; only poor knowledge exists on native tree species propagation and seed storage biology; many species require a long duration of nursery care; some species take a long time to mature and produce seed; and there are seed storage challenges. Native species are therefore outcompeted by alternative exotic species that are easier to access, propagate and manage, and that have better extension provision. Here, we highlight bottlenecks on putting native tree seed resources into use and restoration investments needed to support native tree seed availability, and the roles of the different stakeholders involved, including of government, the private sector and local communities. 


Forest-landscape restoration successes and challenges: Experiences from provision of adequate tree seed portfolios project in Ethiopia 

Hadgu, K. M.1, Moestrup, S.1,2, Graudal, L.2,3 & Jamnadass, R.3 

1Provision of Adequate Tree Seed Portfolios (PATSPO), World Agroforestry (ICRAF), Ethiopia; 2Forest, Nature and Biomass Section, University of Copenhagen, Denmark; 3World Agroforestry (ICRAF), Kenya 

Forest-landscape restoration is one of the top global priorities set to enhance biodiversity conservation and carbon sequesteration while improving livelihoods. Ethiopia has embarked upon one of the most globally ambitious programmes of forest landscape restoration, committing to restore more than 22–25 million ha of degraded forest landscapes within the next 20 years. However, Ethiopia has a major challenge in implementing tree-based restoration that requires the use of diverse, healthy and productive tree seeds. Traditional seed supply programmes in the country focus on relatively few species, most of them of unknown genetic quality and often with insufficient knowledge on adaptation to site conditions and adaptability to climate change. Most of the tree seed is supplied through an informal seed system where there is no legal certification. There is no adequate matching of planting materials to planting sites, leading to huge loss of higher productivity opportunities. To address the challenges, the Provision of Adequate Tree Seed Portfolios (PATSPO) project was implemented in the country for providing multiple tree species programmes through improving national tree genetic resources; building capacities to monitor and deliver quality seed and seedlings of multiple species; establishing Breeding Seed Orchards (BSOs) for selected high priority species; and developing smartphone Apps for identifying the right tree species for the right place and purpose. The project results contributed to enhanced, informed decision making supporting large-scale restoration prgrammes across the country. The restoration successes and challenges may inform implementation of large-scale restoration programmes in other African countries. 


Deforestation and plant genetic resources conservation through seed banking in Madagascar 

Rakotoarisoa, S. E. 

Kew Madagascar Conservation Centre, Madagascar 

Madagascar is the world’s fourth-largest island with an area of 587,000 km2. Approximately 90% of all animal and plant species found in Madagascar are endemic. Given its unique biodiversity, Madagascar is identified as one of the megadiverse countries of the world. However, the island is facing serious biodiversity loss due to deforestation. The island lost 44% of its natural forests between 1950 and 2000, and the rate of deforestation keeps increasing. At the work park congress held in Durban in 2003, the formal president Marc Ravalomanana decided to triple the total area of protected areas corresponding to roughly 10% of the country’s land area. Despite this fact, these areas do not offer a guarantee of total protection of species due to the increase of illegal human activities inside some of the protected areas. Since 2000, an unprecedented ex situ conservation programme has been undertaken in Madagascar, led by the Kew Madagascar Conservation Centre with national institution Silo National des Graines Forestières, to ensure the safeguarding of phytogenetic resources for future generations by involving the local communities. From the beginning of the project until the end of 2020, over 9,000 seed collections representing approximately 4,000 plant species have been collected and banked in seed banks in Madagascar and in Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst in the UK. 


Sourcing native seed in the United States 

Havens, K. 

Chicago Botanic Garden, USA 

Proper sourcing of seed for restoration has never been straightforward, and it is becoming even more challenging and complex as the climate changes and more frequent natural disasters, including wildfire, flooding and hurricanes, increase the need for large-scale restoration. The commercially available restoration species pool in the USA remains limited. We will review the efforts underway by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) to assess and increase the diversity and quantity of native seed in the marketplace. We will discuss findings of the NASEM interim report describing the structure of the supply chain, factors increasing the need for native seed, and plans for gathering additional data about drivers of purchasing choices and capacity of the USA native seed market.