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During the last three decades the Brazilian Atlantic Forest has reversed centuries of deforestation into a net gain of forest cover. Forest restoration occurred mainly due to natural regeneration of abandoned areas and, to a lesser extent, by planned restoration. Restored forests may not persist due to intentional deforestation to avoid legal restrictions regarding mature forests. Considering this scenario, we evaluated the current situation of the Atlantic Forest regarding forest fragment ages and also the persistence of restored forests. During the last three decades, more than 11 million hectares of forests were restored in the Atlantic Forest. However, only 43% of the restored forests persisted until 2016. These restored forests represent approximately 20% of the current forest cover. Moreover, 10% of the current forest cover was restored less than 15 years ago. The persistence of restored forests is critical, especially during the first years as more than 37% of restored forests are cut before 4 years. Also, more than 30% of those restored areas that reach 9 years old will be cut before reaching 10 years. Although we identified a reduction of overall deforestation trends, there is a constant deforestation rate of restored forests, which is leading to a process of rejuvenation of the Atlantic Forest. The adoption of natural regeneration for large scale restoration as a strategy to mitigate climate change and to conserve biodiversity must be associated to policies focusing on protecting restored forests to ensure their persistence.
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019
Society for Ecological Restoration