Global restoration opportunities in tropical rainforest landscapes

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Science Advances  03 Jul 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 7, eaav3223
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav3223

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  • RE: There are many restoration hotspots in the world, but specific analyses are needed to reveal them
    • Pedro Brancalion, Professor, University of São Paulo
    • Other Contributors:
      • Aidin Niamir, Researcher, Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Institute
      • Eben Broadbent, Professor, University of Florida
      • Renato Crouzeilles, researcher, International Institute for Sustainability
      • Felipe Barros, researcher, Universidad Nacional de Misiones
      • Angelica Almeyda Zambrano, researcher, University of Florida
      • Alessandro Baccini, researcher, Woods Hole Research Center
      • James Aronson, researcher, Missouri Botanical Garden
      • Scott Goetz, professor, Northern Arizona University
      • J. Leighton Reid, professor, Virginia Tech University
      • Bernardo Strassburg, Director, International Institute for Sustainability
      • Sarah Wilson, University of Connecticut
      • Robin Chazdon, professor, University of Connecticut

    Restoration hotspots exist and deserve attention in mountainous regions, as well as in subtropical rain forests, dry tropical forests, temperate forests, and other forest and non-forest ecosystems around the world. As we stated in our methodology, our work focused on tropical moist broadleaf forests below 1,000 m because of the limitations of the global coverages on biomass accumulation that were needed as part of the climate mitigation benefits analysis, a critical benefit in the context of our work. We did not have robust data for estimating forest biomass accumulation for montane regions as we did for lowland tropics based on our earlier studies (1), so we could not complete the global analysis for montane areas. The exclusion of montane forest was the consequence of a knowledge gap. Therefore, we do not consider that it was a particular “omission”, nor do we imply that restoration efforts should be restricted to the hotspot areas that we illustrate in our study. Our aim is to encourage decision makers to take these priority areas into account to the extent that their jurisdictions for restoration include these regions. The same constraint applies to countries with most of their restoration opportunities in drylands or seasonally dry forests or woodlands that were outside of the scope of our study. These constraints were clearly described in the Methods section of our paper. We also explicitly recognize the importance of the Andes when describing this gap. In our Method...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • Tropical mountains are also an essential restoration hotspot
    • Sebastián González-Caro, PhD student, Departamento de Ciencias Agrarias, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Medellín, Colombia
    • Other Contributors:
      • Sebastián Tello, Assistant Researcher, Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
      • Manuel Peralvo, Researcher, Consorcio para el Desarrollo Sostenible de la Ecorregión Andina–CONDESAN, Quito, Ecuador
      • Álvaro Duque, Associate Professor, Departamento de Ciencias Agrarias, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Medellín, Colombia

    In a recent paper, Brancalion et al. (2019) used information on the benefits and feasibility of restoration to identify global hotspots in tropical rainforests (1). They suggest that these hotspots should be priority areas to guide regional and local restoration programs. We believe that Brancalion et al.’s analyses are valuable, but lament their decision to exclude tropical forests above 1,000 m in elevation and not discuss the impacts of this omission. In particular, we are concerned that focusing forest restoration efforts in Brancalion et al.’s hotspots will divert attention away from critical needs and opportunities in tropical montane landscapes. The Andes exemplify the fundamental importance of tropical mountains for biodiversity conservation, climate-change mitigation and water security. In only 1% of the world’s land surface, the tropical Andes contain 15% of all vascular plant species, half of which are considered endemic to this region (2). The Andes, and other montane regions, also contain a disproportionate number of species with small ranges. These species may be especially threatened by environmental change, which promotes elevational range contraction and potential extinctions (3–5). Andean forests can also be important carbon sinks. Recent research suggests that forests in the tropical Andes can store as much carbon in aboveground biomass as lowland forests (6), and that forest soils at high elevations store significantly more carbon than soils in the lowl...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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