Toward sustainable and just forest recovery: research gaps and potentials for knowledge integration

Arnim Scheidel, Simone Gingrich*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Forest recovery is central for addressing major sustainability challenges, such as climate change and biodiversity loss. While positive assessments prevail over the global ecological forest restoration potential, critical research highlights limited potentials and even detrimental local impacts, particularly in the Global South. Here, we argue that knowledge integration across land system science (LSS) and political ecology (PE) can contribute to addressing this contradiction and advance knowledge about ecologically sustainable and socially just forest recovery. We identify five key areas where knowledge integration is promising: (1) developing multidimensional forest definitions, (2) linking forest land to users and interests, (3) identifying reforestation failures and successes, (4) associating drivers and impacts across places and scales, and (5) including justice dimensions in assessments of socio-ecological forest recovery potentials. For each knowledge area, we review key contributions by LSS and PE, and outline future research directions to address ecologically sustainable and socially just forest recovery. High hopes are placed on forest recovery for mitigating climate change and benefiting local communities, but severe ecological and social concerns prevail over its impacts on the ground. We propose that further linking two interdisciplinary research fields, land system science and political ecology, helps to address these concerns. For five knowledge areas we discuss problems related to lack of knowledge integration, identify specific contributions by the two fields, and outline future research directions to advance ecologically sustainable and socially just forest recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)680-690
Number of pages11
JournalOne Earth
Volume3
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2020

Keywords

  • afforestation
  • climate change mitigation
  • conflict
  • conservation
  • forest transitions
  • justice
  • land system science
  • political ecology
  • reforestation
  • transdisciplinarity

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