UN to restore 150 million ha of degraded land

Last Updated: Wed, Feb 06, 2013 08:00 hrs

Syndey, Feb 6 (IANS) The United Nations aims to restore 150 million hectares of degraded land worldwide by 2020 - but restoration ecologists warn that it will take more than simple tree plantation.

Myles Menz, doctoral candidate at the University of Western Australia (UWA) School of Plant Biology, who led the study, argues that gaps in knowledge must be identified, capacities developed and research translated into policy and practice in order to achieve success in landscape-scale restoration projects.

With Kingsley Dixon at the UWA and Richard Hobbs, both professors, Menz proposes a four-point plan to ensure that restoration sustains and enhances restoration values, while recognising that preventing environmental loss and damage is better than restoration after damage has happened, the journal Science reports.

"Restoration science often falls short of practical demands," Menz writes.

"Early forest restoration in south-western Australia involved planting non-native and non-local species based on what was current best practice at the time. Consequently, science programmes were undertaken to fill these gaps in knowledge."

The authors cite other initiatives such as China's Great Green Wall, where large-scale planting of non-native trees in a project that began in 1978 was thought to have caused damage, as local ecosystems were damaged by the plantation of non-native, fast-growing trees, according to an UWA statement.

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