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Around 12% (two billion hectares) of the earth's terrestrial surface is degraded. Degraded lands cost 10% of Global GDP per annum. Forest landscape restoration is a critical strategy for tackling critical societal challenges of our time, including global food security, access to clean water, soil erosion, climate change, loss of biodiversity and desertification.

Bioversity International and members of the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration are working to ensure restoration maximises delivery on the Sustainable Development Goals.

Political committment through The Bonn Challenge, Initiative 20x20, AFR100 and notably, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (2011-2020) have set ambitious targets on restoration. However using the right native trees adapted to the local environment, and appropriate to maximize restoration outcomes are vital. The knowledge and capacity on how to use native tree diversity to maximize delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals is currently lacking in many countries.


The Forest and Genetic Resources team at Bioversity International is dedicated to supporting the achievement of these goals by providing the evidence base, decision support tools, and capacity strengthening needed to ensure effective use of diversity among tree species, and genetic diversity within species, for resilient restoration. Using planting material that is adapted to the changing environmental conditions of a restoration site is fundamental to ensure that the trees planted today will become the healthy forests of tomorrow.

Tree populations need genetic variation for survival, good growth and viability in the long term. Genetic variation also enhances populations' resistance against acute and chronic stressors, such as pests and diseases, and the effects of global warming. Inadequate consideration of the source of planting material has led many restoration projects to fail.

We help guide practitioners in identifying and collecting appropriate seed and planting material  to meet multiple restoration objectives and informing the development of policy and regulations to ensure seed supply meets demand.

Trees for Seeds

Bioversity International’s ‘Trees for Seeds’ provides tools and capacity building for resilient restoration:

  • establishing regional forest genetic resource networks
  • identifiying gaps in seed supply systems
  • strengthening seed production capacities
  • providing tools for the conservation of priority species and selection of suitable species and planting materials.

Trees for Seeds

Find out more

In the news

As projects to restore woodlands accelerate, researchers are looking for ways to avoid repeating past failures.

Read more in Nature News: 'How to plan a trillion trees'

COVID-19 highlights the need for food systems-based policies for reducing tropical deforestation

Deforestation has many drivers but one is often overlooked: food consumption in cities that increases demand for products produced on deforested land....

Read more

Diversity for Restoration Tool (D4R)

Ecological restoration of degraded land is a global concern. Tropical dry forest is one of the most threatened ecosystems in Colombia, with only 7% of its original cover remaining. Its restoration is a priority for the country but presents challenges, not least due to seasonal rains and long dry seasons that can impact the survivorship of planted material.

To improve the effectiveness of restoration action in tropical fry forest, Bioversity International and partners developed the Diversity for Restoration Tool (D4R - previously ResTOOL) to help in the appropriate choice of species and identify seed sources for the project site that meet the desired restoration objectives. D4R also takes into account climate change when choosing appropriate material, and includes information about the propagation of more than 300 tree species. 


Go to the D4R tool

Forest ecosystem restoration – useful publications

Genetic considerations in ecosystem restoration using native tree species Paper I Book
Bioversity International completed this study for the FAO report on The State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources. It reviews evidence of the critical role that genetic diversity plays in seedling survival and adaptation of forests to environmental change and discuss’ the advantage of using native tree species over exotic species for meeting conservation and sustainable development goals.

Safeguarding investments in forest ecosystem restoration
Policy Brief which sets out the keys to success including:

  • Use adapted and genetically diverse seed
  • Allow ample planning and implementation time - restoration can take up 20 years or more!
  • Monitor success as multiple stages

Developing fit-for-purpose seed supply systems

Failure to use suitable seed in forest restoration can severely hinder seedling establishment and the long-term viability of restored forest. Research conducted by Bioversity International finds that seed supply systems often fall short in providing quality seed in the quantity needed to meet restoration targets. In response to this, we are working to support the development of ‘fit-for purpose seed supply systems.’

  • Forest restoration risks large-scale failure if tree seed supply is not addressed as a priority > Factsheet
  • Forest restoration severely constrained by a lack of attention to the quantity and quality of tree seed: Insights from a global survey > Blog I Publication
  • Fit for purpose seed supply systems for the implementation of landscape restoration under Initiative 20x20: An analysis of national seed systems in Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia, Peru, Chile and Argentina > Publication


Further reading

Importance of genetic considerations in forest landscape restoration. Factsheet

Discover more about how the Asia Pacific Forest Genetic Resources Network (APFORGEN) is training the next generation of restoration practitioners. Blog

Seeds of change training restoration practitioners to solve genetic problems. Blog

Why seeds for trees matter in ecosystem restoration efforts in Burkina Faso. Blog

Small is beautiful: Restoring degraded lands, once parcel at a time. Blog

Restoring lands and livelihoods in Burkina Faso: The business of one association. Blog

Why gender matters in forest landscape restoration. Infographic


Bioversity International's research on forest genetic resources is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry and is supported by CGIAR Trust Fund Donors. We lead a cluster on safeguarding forest genetic diversity.

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