Global priority areas for ecosystem restoration

Strassburg, Bernardo B.N.; Iribarrem, Alvaro; Beyer, Hawthorne L.; Cordeiro, Carlos Leandro; Crouzeilles, Renato; Jakovac, Catarina C.; Braga Junqueira, André; Lacerda, Eduardo; Latawiec, Agnieszka E.; Balmford, Andrew; Brooks, Thomas M.; Butchart, Stuart H.M.; Chazdon, Robin L.; Erb, Karl Heinz; Brancalion, Pedro; Buchanan, Graeme; Cooper, David; Díaz, Sandra; Donald, Paul F.; Kapos, Valerie; Leclère, David; Miles, Lera; Obersteiner, Michael; Plutzar, Christoph; Carlos, Carlos Alberto; Scarano, Fabio R.; Visconti, Piero


Extensive ecosystem restoration is increasingly seen as being central to conserving biodiversity1 and stabilizing the climate of the Earth2. Although ambitious national and global targets have been set, global priority areas that account for spatial variation in benefits and costs have yet to be identified. Here we develop and apply a multicriteria optimization approach that identifies priority areas for restoration across all terrestrial biomes, and estimates their benefits and costs. We find that restoring 15% of converted lands in priority areas could avoid 60% of expected extinctions while sequestering 299 gigatonnes of CO2—30% of the total CO2 increase in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution. The inclusion of several biomes is key to achieving multiple benefits. Cost effectiveness can increase up to 13-fold when spatial allocation is optimized using our multicriteria approach, which highlights the importance of spatial planning. Our results confirm the vast potential contributions of restoration to addressing global challenges, while underscoring the necessity of pursuing these goals synergistically.