The Crowther Lab, led by ecologist Thomas Crowther at ETH Zürich, is a team of scientists researching global ecological systems, climate regulation, and restoration. Prior to starting the lab, Crowther mapped tree cover at a global scale and tracked decline in tree numbers. The lab identifies possibilities and practices for global tree restoration as a way to capture atmospheric carbon with the aim of mitigating climate change. A major project of the Crowther Lab is Restor, an online open-data platform for the global restoration movement.

Zürich, Switzerland


Restor is an open-data platform sharing deforestation and restoration data. The platform, currently in beta, is developed by ETH Zurich’s Crowther Lab in collaboration with Google. This image, for example, shows a site in the Central Kalimantan region that has been deforested and undergoing active restoration. Different layers reveal how this area of land has changed over time.


Image of Restor - Heidehof site in Central Kalimantan. Image source: Restor [screenshot]. Retrieved January 27, 2022 from https://restor.eco/

Mapping Global Forest Cover

Two important scientific papers, the first by Crowther et al. (2015) in Nature and the second by Bastin et al. (2019) in Science, broke new ground in estimating global tree density and and potential carbon sequestration through tree restoration as a highly effective approach to climate change. These papers were widely reported in the media and influenced a proliferation of tree-planting organisations and operation. Since publication, both other scientists and the authors themselves have sought to complicate the positioning of tree planting as a straightforward solution, debating the figures about carbon sequestration, the relationship between forest and grassland ecologies, and the ecological dynamics to be considered in tree restoration.

Learn more about this work in our radio episode with Thomas Crowther.

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