A practice-led assessment of landscape restoration potential in a biodiversity hotspot

  • Abigail Wills (Creator)
  • Andy Marshall (Creator)
  • Deo Shirima (Creator)
  • Olivier Villemaire-Côté (Creator)
  • Philip John Platts (Creator)
  • Sarah Knight (Creator)
  • Robin Loveridge (Creator)
  • Hamidu Seki (Creator)
  • Catherine Waite (Creator)
  • Pantaleo Munishi (Creator)
  • Herman Lyatuu (Creator)
  • Blanca Bernal (Creator)
  • Marion Pfeifer (Creator)



Effective restoration planning tools are needed to mitigate global carbon and biodiversity crises. Published spatial assessments of restoration potential are often at large scales or coarse resolutions inappropriate for local action. Using a Tanzanian case study, we introduce a systematic approach to inform landscape restoration planning, estimating spatial variation in cost-effectiveness, based on restoration method, logistics, biomass modelling and uncertainty mapping. We found potential for biomass recovery across 77.7% of a 53,000 km2 region, but with some natural spatial discontinuity in moist forest biomass, that was previously assigned to human causes. Most areas with biomass deficit (80.5%) were restorable through passive or assisted natural regeneration. However, cumulative biomass gains from planting outweighed initially high implementation costs meaning that, where applicable, this method yielded greater long-term returns on investment. Accounting for ecological, funding and other uncertainty, the top 25% consistently cost-effective sites were within protected areas and/or moderately degraded moist forest and savanna. Agro-ecological mosaics had high biomass deficit but little cost-effective restoration potential. Socio-economic research will be needed to inform action towards environmental and human development goals in these areas. Our results highlight value in long-term landscape restoration investments and separate treatment of savannas and forests. Furthermore, they contradict previously asserted low restoration potential in East Africa, emphasising the importance of our regional approach for identifying restoration opportunities across the tropics.

External deposit with Dryad.
Date made available16 Oct 2022

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