Opportunities for Integrating Social Science into Research on Dry Forest Restoration: A Mini-Review

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Seasonally dry tropical forest ecosystems have been greatly reduced in areas through conversions to alternate land uses such as grazing and crop production. The U.N. Decade on Restoration has focused attention on both restoration globally, and also regional attention on tropical dry forests, as they are excellent candidates for regeneration and reforestation. As such, the science of how we restore dry forests is advancing; however, few studies of dry forest restoration include collaborations with social scientists. This is unfortunate, because restoration projects that embrace a people-centered approach have the highest chances of success. Here, I review recent studies that have incorporated aspects of social science and human dimensions into the study and design of dry forest restoration practices. I focus on three key topics that merit a closer integration of restoration research and practice and social science: (1) recognizing that local people are central to project success, (2) cost benefit or effectiveness analyses that evaluate the relative costs of alternative management strategies, and (3) identification of land-use tradeoffs, synergisms and priority mapping. I conclude that closer collaborations among dry forest restoration researchers and a wider group of partners including social scientists, local communities, environmental educators, and geographers will increase the value of restoration research and the likelihood that such projects achieve multiple ecological and societal benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7351
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by a University of Minnesota Grant-in-Aid of Scholarship.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the author. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • cost effectiveness analysis
  • people-centered
  • social science
  • trade-offs


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