Global reforestation and biodiversity conservation

Krista M.S. Kemppinen, Pamela M. Collins, David G. Hole, Christopher Wolf, William J. Ripple, Leah R. Gerber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The loss of forest is a leading cause of species extinction, and reforestation is 1 of 2 established interventions for reversing this loss. However, the role of reforestation for biodiversity conservation remains debated, and lacking is an assessment of the potential contribution that reforestation could make to biodiversity conservation globally. We conducted a spatial analysis of overlap between 1,550 forest-obligate threatened species’ ranges and land that could be reforested after accounting for socioeconomic and ecological constraints. Reforestation on at least 43% (∼369 million ha) of reforestable area was predicted to potentially benefit threatened vertebrates. This is approximately 15% of the total area where threatened vertebrates occur. The greatest opportunities for conserving threatened vertebrate species are in the tropics, particularly Brazil and Indonesia. Although reforestation is not a substitute for forest conservation, and most of the area containing threatened vertebrates remains forested, our results highlight the need for global conservation strategies to recognize the potentially significant contribution that reforestation could make to biodiversity conservation. If implemented, reforestation of ∼369 million ha would also contribute substantially to climate-change mitigation, offering a way to achieve multiple sustainability commitments at once. Countries must now work to overcome key barriers (e.g., unclear revenue streams, high transaction costs) to investment in reforestation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1221-1228
Number of pages8
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • Aichi biodiversity targets
  • Bonn Challenge
  • forest
  • post-2020
  • threatened vertebrate species

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


Dive into the research topics of 'Global reforestation and biodiversity conservation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this