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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.


Using tree diversity effectively for restoration efforts offers a powerful development solution.

Bioversity International’s ‘Trees for Seeds’ initiative provides the tools and capacity building for resilient restoration.
Our activities include:

  • establishing networks and tools to safeguard existing forest genetic diversity
  • identifying gaps in seed supply systems
  • strengthening regional capacity for seed production and selection
  • the selection of suitable species and planting materials to meet restoration objectives, in particular for climate change related objectives.

Landscape restoration in Africa: Prospects and opportunities

Launchpad: Trees for Seeds - GLF Nairobi 2018

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Forest restoration

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Forest and tree diversity

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In the news - How to plant a trillion trees

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

Read more in Nature News:

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