The Atlas of Forest and Landscape Opportunities is a management tool to support stakeholders in identifying opportunities for restoration. As part of the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration projects, this map reveals wider landscapes where restoration opportunities are more likely to be found. This digital platform raises questions about how scientific knowledge and expertise influence where and how restoration is planned and implemented globally.

Identifying Restoration Opportunities

Technologists and scientists adopted biophysical data combined with population density datasets to map current and possible forest distribution on earth. As result, this Atlas identified 2 billion hectares of land as potential sites for forest restoration. While this assessment demonstrated the feasibility of establishing large-scale restoration targets as part of international agreements, there are several concerns with using a technical approach and aerial views of landscapes to indicate how to prioritize degraded areas to be restored.

A World of Opportunity for Forest and Landscape Restoration
Screenshot of Atlas of Forest Landscape Restoration Opportunities interactive map. Image source: World Resources Institute. Retrieved 21 April 2022, from https://www.wri.org/applications/maps/flr-atlas/

For instance, how are 'degraded' or 'deforested' lands being defined? Scientists working on grassland and savannah ecologies have raised concerns that the Atlas identifies large areas of longstanding grassland or open-canopy woodland as degraded or deforested land rather as than complex biodiverse environments. For example, Veldman et al. (2015) and Bond (2016) argue that the afforestation of some of these grasslands through tree planting, fire suppression, and the exclusion of grazing animals could have negative impacts in terms of biodiversity and longstanding carbon sequestration.

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