Creating space for large-scale restoration in tropical agricultural landscapes

Authors

  • Agnieszka E Latawiec,

    1. International Institute for Sustainability, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    2. Department of Production Engineering and Logistics, Opole University of Technology, Opole, Poland
    3. School of Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
    4. Sustainability Lab, Department of Geography and the Environment, Pontificia Universidade Catolica, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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  • Bernardo BN Strassburg,

    Corresponding author
    1. International Institute for Sustainability, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    2. Sustainability Lab, Department of Geography and the Environment, Pontificia Universidade Catolica, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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  • Pedro HS Brancalion,

    1. Department of Forest Sciences, University of São Paulo, Piracicaba, Brazil
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  • Ricardo R Rodrigues,

    1. Department of Biology, University of São Paulo, Piracicaba, Brazil
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  • Toby Gardner

    1. International Institute for Sustainability, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    2. Stockholm Environment Centre, Stockholm, Sweden
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Abstract

Poorly planned, large-scale ecological restoration projects may displace agricultural activities and potentially lead to the clearance of native vegetation elsewhere, with associated impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Yet few studies have considered these risks and the ways in which restoration can increase competition for land. Here, we address this issue by examining whether large-scale restoration of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest could displace cattle production, as a result of land shortages. Although the risks of displacement are indeed high when reforestation is planned in areas with high cattle productivity, we discuss how these risks can be minimized through a combination of productivity increases, a regional restoration planning framework, and the prioritization of marginal agricultural land for restoration. We also consider how restoration can, in some circumstances, be made more economically sustainable by incorporating income-generating activities such as exploitation of timber and non-timber forest products, certification, and payments for ecosystem services.

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