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Fifteen essential science advances needed for effective restoration of the world's forest landscapes

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Marion PfeiferORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


There has never been a more pressing and opportune time for science and practice to collaborate towards restoration of the world's forests. Multiple uncertainties remain for achieving successful, long-term forest landscape restoration (FLR). In this article, we use expert knowledge and literature review to identify knowledge gaps that need closing to advance restoration practice, as an introduction to a landmark theme issue on FLR and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Aligned with an Adaptive Management Cycle for FLR, we identify 15 essential science advances required to facilitate FLR success for nature and people. They highlight that the greatest science challenges lie in the conceptualization, planning and assessment stages of restoration, which require an evidence base for why, where and how to restore, at realistic scales. FLR and underlying sciences are complex, requiring spatially explicit approaches across disciplines and sectors, considering multiple objectives, drivers and trade-offs critical for decision-making and financing. The developing tropics are a priority region, where scientists must work with stakeholders across the Adaptive Management Cycle. Clearly communicated scientific evidence for action at the outset of restoration planning will enable donors, decision makers and implementers to develop informed objectives, realistic targets and processes for accountability. This article paves the way for 19 further articles in this theme issue, with author contributions from across the world. This article is part of the theme issue 'Understanding forest landscape restoration: reinforcing scientific foundations for the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration'.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Marshall AR, Waite CE, Pfeifer M, Banin LF, Rakotonarivo S, Chomba S, Herbohn J, Gilmour DA, Brown M, Chazdon RL

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences

Year: 2023

Volume: 378

Issue: 1867

Print publication date: 02/01/2023

Online publication date: 14/11/2022

Acceptance date: 26/08/2022

Date deposited: 28/11/2022

ISSN (print): 0962-8436

ISSN (electronic): 1471-2970

Publisher: Royal Society Publishing


DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2021.0065

PubMed id: 36373922


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Funder referenceFunder name
FT170100279Australian Research Council