Optimizing investments in national-scale forest landscape restoration in Uganda to maximize multiple benefits

Jesse D. Gourevitch, Peter L Hawthorne, Bonnie L Keeler, Craig R. Beatty, Michelle Greve, Michael A. Verdone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Forest loss and degradation globally has resulted in declines in multiple ecosystem services and reduced habitat for biodiversity. Forest landscape restoration offers an opportunity to mitigate these losses, conserve biodiversity, and improve human well-being. As part of the Bonn Challenge, a global effort to restore 350 million hectares of deforested and degraded land by 2030, over 30 countries have recently made commitments to national forest landscape restoration. In order to achieve these goals, decision-makers require information on the potential benefits and costs of forest landscape restoration to efficiently target investments. In response to this need, we developed an approach using a suite of ecosystem service mapping tools and a multi-objective spatial optimization technique that enables decision-makers to estimate the potential benefits and opportunity costs of restoration, visualize tradeoffs associated with meeting multiple objectives, and prioritize where restoration could deliver the greatest benefits. We demonstrate the potential of this approach in Uganda, one of the nations committed to the Bonn Challenge. Using maps of the potential benefits and costs of restoration and efficiency frontiers for optimal restoration scenarios, we were able to communicate how ecosystem services benefits vary spatially across the country and how different weights on ecosystem services objectives can affect the allocation of restoration across Uganda. This work provides a generalizable approach to improve investments in forest landscape restoration and illuminates the tradeoffs associated with alternative restoration strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114027
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 17 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by UKAid from the UK government through the International Union for Conservation of Natures KnowFor program. Additional financial and institutional support was provided by the Natural Capital Project, a partnership between the University of Minnesota, Stanford University, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Nature Conservancy. MG was supported by the National Research Foundation of South Africa (Grant Number 98889). The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 IOP Publishing Ltd.


  • Bonn Challenge
  • carbon
  • decision-making ecosystem services
  • forest landscape restoration
  • opportunity costs
  • spatial optimization


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