Scientists are calling for a ‘decade of global action’ to reforest the planet, following the overnight publication of a themed international journal led by researchers from Australia’s University of the Sunshine Coast.
The landmark issue of the Royal Society’s Philosophical Transactions reveals the latest scientific advances in forest restoration with the aim of benefiting people as well as nature.
“This paves the way for evidence-based, on-the-ground action plans for the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration,” said Professor Andy Marshall of UniSC’s Forest Research Institute.
Professor Marshall said it was exciting to see the strong focus on forests at this week’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) underway in Egypt, with Australia joining world leaders in committing to halting forest loss and land degradation by 2030.
He said the recommendations in the new journal issue combined research findings with knowledge and experience from many countries.
“Our goals are ambitious and intend to deliver long-term success by learning from the past – from choosing the right location and restoration method through to mitigating socioeconomic pressures, weather extremes and people-wildlife interactions,” he said.
“Almost 200 authors from 27 countries and the United Nations’ taskforce are working to ensure these findings really make a difference to forest restoration and inspire action around the world, particularly in the developing tropics where much of this research has been undertaken.”
Professor Marshall’s principal paper lists 15 essential advances for science to help restore the world’s forested landscapes.
“Forests are crucial for the health and economies of our planet, but they must be better planned, managed and monitored to ensure sustainable benefits for people as well as nature,” he said.
He said careful planning of future forest projects could boost the biodiversity of species, carbon sinks, economic development and people’s livelihoods.
“The evidence gives scientific backing to campaigns by environmental groups using the banner, Plantations Are Not Forests – acknowledging that tree-planting is not always the correct approach to restoration, and that restoration needs to consider underlying ecology, local people, and the ultimate reasons for planting the trees.”