Planning forest restoration within private land holdings with conservation co-benefits at the landscape scale
Forest loss is mainly due to the conversion of forest to agriculture, mostly in private lands. Forest restoration is a global priority, yet restoration targets are ambitious and budget-limited. Therefore, assessing the outcome of alternative decisions on land-use within private lands is paramount to perform cost-effective restoration. We present a novel framework that incorporates spatial planning for forest restoration within private lands with conservation co-benefits at the landscape scale. As a case study, we used three real landscapes of 10.000 ha with differing amounts of forest cover in the Atlantic Forest region of Brazil, and three hypothetical animal species with different dispersal abilities. We estimated the total amount of forest that landholders must restore to comply with the Native Vegetation Protection Law, which requires landholders to reforest 20% of their land within a 20-year time frame. We compared the costeffectiveness of five restoration strategies based on the improvement in habitat availability and restoration costs. The most cost-effective strategy depends on a landscape’s initial amount of forest cover and the species of concern. We revealed that spatial planning for restoration in private lands increased habitat availability up to 12 times more than random restoration, which was always the least cost-effective strategy.
Cost-effective large-scale restoration in Brazil depends on public policies that assist landholders to comply with the law and on prioritizing areas for restoration within private lands. We show that by adding habitat availability as target in spatial prioritization, benefits for biodiversity can be hastened at low additional cost, even in real world scenarios with severe spatial constraints. Despite constraints, spatially planned restoration for law compliance in Brazil increased landscape permeability by creating corridors and stepping stones. Our framework should be used to plan restoration in Brazilian private lands and can be customized for other regions worldwide.