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Global priority areas for ecosystem restoration

Restoring 30% of the world’s ecosystems in priority areas could stave off more than 70% of projected extinctions and absorb nearly half of the carbon built up in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution

Returning specific ecosystems in all continents worldwide that have been replaced by farming to their natural state would rescue the majority of land-based species of mammals, amphibians and birds under threat of dying out while soaking up more than 465 billion tons of carbon dioxide, reveals a new study released in 14h October 2020. Protecting 30% of the priority areas identified in the study, together with protecting ecosystems still in their natural form, would reduce carbon emissions equivalent to 49% of all the carbon that has built up in our atmosphere over the last two centuries. Leaded by IIS, in total, 27 researchers from 12 countries contributed to the report, which assesses forests, grasslands, shrublands, wetlands and arid ecosystems: Global priority areas for ecosystem restoration, published in Nature .

By identifying precisely which destroyed ecosystems worldwide should be restored to deliver biodiversity and climate benefits at a low cost, without impact on agricultural production, the study is the first of its kind to provide global evidence that where restoration takes place has the most profound impact on the achievement of biodiversity, climate and food security goals. According to the study, restoration can be 13 times more cost-effective when it takes place in the highest priority locations. In a first, the study focuses on the potential benefits of restoring both forest and nonforest ecosystems on a global scale.

The new report in Nature builds on the UN’s dire warnings that we’re on track to lose 1 million species in coming decades and that the world has mostly failed in its efforts to reach globally-set biodiversity targets in 2020, including the goal to restore 15% of ecosystems worldwide. Nations are re-doubling efforts to stave off mass extinctions in the lead up to the Convention on Biological Diversity COP-15 in Kunming, China, in 2021, when a global framework to protect nature is expected to be signed. The new Nature report, which includes as co-author David Cooper, Deputy Executive Secretary at the CBD, will inform the discussion around restoration and offer insight into how reviving ecosystems can help tackle multiple goals.

The video highlights the main findings of the work published by IIS director Bernardo Strassburg and team in Nature, in October 2020.

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Convention on Biological Diversity Forestation International International Institute for Sustainability The University of Queensland Universidade Veiga de Almeida