In a year when headlines like “2021 tropical forest loss figures put zero-deforestation goal by 2030 out of reach” and “Ocean animals face a mass extinction from climate change, study finds” flash on my phone screen over the course of the same day, I find tremendous solace in the people and projects who have come together on Restor.
It goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway: the restoration of nature is not enough. The restoration AND conservation of nature is not enough. We must restore and conserve and decarbonize and reduce consumption (principally those of us in the world’s richest countries) and reimagine our economies and reexamine what we truly value.
But restoration is not nothing. In fact, it’s incredibly powerful. Managed in ecologically and socially responsible ways, the restoration of forests alone can increase food security for more than 1.3 billion people, sequester more than 299 gigatonnes of CO2, and avoid 60 percent of expected species extinctions. And so I find great hope in the restoration community.
One year ago, Restor launched the beta version of our platform, with the goal of bringing together the entire ecosystem restoration space. Thanks to an amazing network of early adopters, scientists, and supporters, Restor quickly established itself as a hub where members of the restoration and conservation communities share their work and connect with a diverse group of actors. Today, Restor provides a unique database to study the global environmental movement.
Emerging trends in ecosystem restoration
Since June 2021, an incredible 109,000 restoration and conservation sites have been listed on the Restor platform. Of those, more than 11,400 sites are listed publicly, ready to be discovered by anyone with an internet connection. We took a closer look at these sites to see what trends are emerging from the growing restoration movement.
The majority of public sites on Restor are small-scale local projects.
With 5,876 sites in the range of 0-10 Ha, Restor is a platform where small-scale, local projects can make their mark on an international map. Locally-led efforts are crucial to the success of global ecosystem restoration and we’re honored and humbled that so many of them are choosing Restor to increase their visibility and connect with the growing restoration community.
Latin America and the Caribbean are leading examples with 7,067 restoration and conservation sites public on Restor
Of the 7,237 sites listed in the Americas, 7,067 are located in Latin America and the Caribbean. In these regions, governments and local communities alike have acknowledged the powerful impact ecosystem restoration can have on biodiversity, the economy, human well-being, and the fight against climate change. In March 2022, the Government of Costa became the first government to commit to using Restor to map its innovative Payments for Ecosystem Services projects. The partnership promises to deliver a greater level of transparency to the country’s conservation and restoration efforts, and we hope more countries will follow their example.
The majority of restoration sites on Restor are located in tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests
In order to elevate the importance and value of all ecosystems, we are actively encouraging the addition of projects that represent other biomes and intervention types, so we can enhance the diversity of projects on Restor. Currently, 71% of public sites are located in tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests or temperate broadleaf forests. Across all biomes, active restoration is happening at 37% of sites and agroforestry is happening at 32% of sites. As more insights are gathered and shared, the learnings from these projects can be shared to inspire and inform future restoration efforts.
What’s next for Restor?
In the coming months, we’ll be releasing platform updates that will introduce new features and an improved user experience to the Restor platform. Conversations with the people that use — and want to use — Restor to increase the transparency and connectivity of the restoration and conservation sites they manage or fund have informed these developments. For example, as of September, users will be able to view aggregated ecological and monitoring data across many sites. They will be able to organize sites by landscape or intervention type (or any other meaningful category) and collaborate effectively with partners. They will (finally!) be able to access the Restor platform in languages other than English. We will also be advancing our monitoring solutions through artificial intelligence and machine learning. This includes developing algorithms that use drone and satellite imagery to detect individual tree canopies and experimenting with bioacoustics as a measure of biodiversity recovery. We envision a future where every restoration and conservation project can benefit from the best available science. And more importantly, where every project can benefit from one another. I look forward to the day when the typical headline is about the positive (and equitable) impacts of restoration, conservation, decarbonization, and reduced consumption. To make this dream a reality, we need nature to be the economically viable option for communities across the globe. By bringing transparency and connectivity to nature-based solutions, Restor is taking a bold step towards making this possible. So, join the movement!