Land degradation leads to poverty and food insecurity for millions of people, biodiversity loss and carbon emissions.
Around 12% (2 billion hectares) of the earth's terrestrial surface is degraded. Degraded lands cost 10% of global GDP per annum yet the potential societal benefits of restoring degraded land is in the order of US$84 billion per annum. Restoration of degraded tropical forest landscapes offer some of the greatest returns on investment in terms of providing ecosystem services such as clean water, providing food, fodder and construction materials, and storing carbon to mitigate climate change.
Using the right mix of native trees in forest restoration efforts is essential to meeting sustainable development goals including reducing poverty and food insecurity, and supporting biodiversity. However, obtaining seed from the appropriate sources of the right mixtures of tree species to achieve restoration objectives presents an enormous challenge. Seeds of most native tree species are currently not available in nurseries or national tree seed centres, at least not in the necessary quantities. In fact, poor consideration of diversity and quality is a major constraint to forest restoration efforts.
To ensure resilience of restored ecosystems, planting material must be adapted to the restoration site and contain sufficient genetic diversity to adapt to future conditions.