Ecosystem restoration on Hainan Island: can we optimize for enhancing regulating services and poverty alleviation?

Ruida Li, Hua Zheng, Stephen Polasky, Peter L. Hawthorne, Patrick O'Connor, Lijuan Wang, Ruonan Li, Yi Xiao, Tong Wu, Zhiyun Ouyang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The restoration of ecosystems provides an important opportunity to improve the provision of ecosystem services. Achieving the maximum possible benefits from restoration with a limited budget requires knowing which places if restored would produce the best combination of improved ecosystem services. Using an ecosystem services assessment and optimization algorithm, we find choices that generate maximum benefits from ecosystem restoration. We applied a set of weights to integrate multiple services into a unified approach and find the optimal land restoration option given those weights. We then systematically vary the weights to find a Pareto frontier that shows potentially optimal choices and illustrates trade-offs among services. We applied this process to evaluate optimal restoration on Hainan Island, China, a tropical island characterized by multiple ecosystem service hotspots and conditions of poverty. We analyzed restoration opportunities with the goal of increasing a provisioning service, plantation revenue, and several water-related ecosystem services that contribute to improved water quality and flood mitigation. We found obvious spatial inconsistencies in the optimal location for maximizing separate services and tradeoffs in the provision of these services. Optimized land-use patterns greatly out-performed the non-target restoration scheme. When explicit consideration of the importance of poverty alleviation was taken into account, the location of the prioritized areas shifted and trade-offs among services varied. Our study emphasizes the importance of integrating social concerns into land-use planning to mitigate conflicts and improve equity, especially in the areas where poverty and hotspots of biodiversity and ecosystem services are highly geographically coincident.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number084039
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • ecosystem services
  • efficiency frontier
  • land-use planning
  • poverty alleviation
  • spatial weighting

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