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Restoration of forest landscapes for biodiversity conservation and rural development in the drylands of Latin America

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Protecting dryland forests in Latin America

An EU-funded initiative carried out a new sustainable approach to protecting arid and semi-arid forest areas in Latin America. Project outcomes will help to support the livelihoods of the local population.

Climate Change and Environment icon Climate Change and Environment

Increasing pressure from economic development and population growth can degrade ecosystems through their negative impacts on biodiversity, soil fertility and water availability. The problem is accentuated in arid and semi-arid environments, which are the original home of many agricultural crops and remain important centres for biodiversity. In addition, these ecosystems support rural communities that are dependent on the local environment for fuel and fodder for their livestock. the goal of the 'Restoration of forest landscapes for biodiversity conservation and rural development in the drylands of Latin America' (Reforlan) project was to find ways of conserving biodiversity by restoring the ecosystem using economically valuable native species in dryland areas of Mexico, Chile and Argentina. The aim was to lessen the effects of previous unsustainable practices and help maintain the range of life forms found in the local environment. project partners used satellite remote sensing imagery to determine the state of forests in order to develop restoration plans. Experimental and modelling techniques were used to test various restoration hypotheses. The rate of forest fragmentation and loss of biodiversity were determined using newly developed Geographical Information Systems (GIS). in addition, decision support tools were created to determine the potential impact of a range of land-use policy options on forest recovery and sustainable development. The tools used included information systems, sustainability and rehabilitation indicators and case studies of practical restoration trials. tools developed under the auspices of the Reforlan project will help to protect some of the most biologically diverse habitats on the planet as well as benefit the local people.

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