Tropical reforestation and forest rehabilitation in the perspective of large-scale implementation
Berlo, M. van
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Worldwide huge areas have been deforested, and even larger areas have been degraded to some extent. When forests are cut down or degraded and the functioning of such ecosystems is lost, this not only means that a lot of biodiversity is lost. It also involves large carbon emissions, the loss of ecosystem services and livelihoods of people who depend on forest resources. Reforestation and forest rehabilitation can sequester carbon, and return some of the biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and services. Moreover, reforestation and forest rehabilitation can reduce the need for harvesting forest resources from undisturbed forests by sustainably providing these resources in a more controlled environment.There are several ways in which reforestation and forest rehabilitation can take place. Here ecological reforestation and forest rehabilitation, agroforestry and silvopastoral systems, and cultivated tree plantations are the methods that are explored for their advantages and disadvantages. Since such large areas have been deforested or degraded in the past, these methods are discussed in the perspective of large scale implementation. It turns out that each of these methods has certain advantages and disadvantages when is comes to large scale implementation. Ecological reforestation and forest rehabilitation sequesters most carbon and is most beneficial for biodiversity and ecosystem function. However this method is costly and does not yield many direct financial benefits. Agroforests and sylvopastoral systems combine carbon sequestration with a larger amount of biodiversity and direct financial benefits. But this method is very labour intensive and therefore difficult to implement on a large scale. Lastly, commercial tree plantations generate quite a lot of direct financial benefits. But their contributions to biodiversity and carbon sequestration on the long term are much lower, as these plantations are eventually harvested. Therefore, to implement these methods on a large scale, these have to be combined in a landscape mosaic. In this way many of the individual goals can be achieved while reducing the risks and disadvantages involved with implementing each methods separately. Also these various methods can benefit from the services provided by the others. One last major difficulty that remains to be addressed, is the effect of climate change. As the climate is expected to change in many areas, it is highly recommended that people and organisations take this into account when engaging in reforestation or forest rehabilitation. In this way the renewed ecosystems can be made more resilient for the future.