Forest Restoration

Pedro Brancalion , Sergius Gandolfi , Ricardo Ribeiro Rodrigues

Three of the main Brazilian researchers in forest restoration worked together to write this reference book, which explains the main concepts, methods and techniques in the area in a clear and accessible language, with the support of numerous real examples, illustrations and field images.

The authors trace the theoretical basis and the history of this activity, applying this knowledge to practical procedures. It presents guidelines to identify different forms of degradation and properly choose the best restoration methods to each case: from natural regeneration to major interventions, such as sowing, seedling planting and superficial forest soil transposition.

The book details evaluation and monitoring models, with suggestions of adaptive handling and corrective actions. It also includes a chapter on income generation and environmental adequacy of rural properties.

Forest Restoration includes several case studies and in-depth discussions written by the main international leaderships and researchers in the area, featured in special textboxes in each chapter and as complimentary on-line material. The book provides an identification key to help selecting the best restoration methods, which also serves as a summary for several topics, offering a complete guide for students and professionals.

Original title
Restauração florestal
Year of publication

About the authors

Pedro H. S. Brancalion

Pedro H. S. Brancalion is a Professor at the Superior School of Agriculture Luiz de Queiroz of University of São Paulo (Esalq-USP) where he coordinates the Tropical Silviculture Lab (Lastrop).

Author's CV (in portuguese).

Sergius Gandolfi

Sergius Gandolfi is an expert in Forest Communities Ecology and Ecological Restoration and coordinates the Ecology and Forest Restoration Lab (Lerf) alongside Prof. Ricardo R. Rodrigues.

Author's CV (in portuguese).

Ricardo Ribeiro Rodrigues

Ricardo Ribeiro Rodrigues is a Professor at the Department of Biological Sciences of Esalq-USP and Coordinator of the Ecology and Forest Restoration Lab (Lerf), wich helds the Program of Environmental and Agricultural Adequacy and Rural Properties, which managed the environmental adequacy of almost 4 million hectares of rural properties in Brazil and the restoration of over 9,700 hectares of riparian forests.

Author's CV.

1 Forest restoration: concept and motivations

1.1 Ecological restoration and its application

1.2 Why to restore?

1.3 Conclusion


2 Brazil’s forest restoration history

2.1 Emergence of forest restoration in Brazil

2.2 Legal aspects associated to ecological restoration in Brazil

2.3 Conceptual phases of forest restoration in Brazil

2.4 Conclusion


3 Reference Ecosystems

3.1 Features of restored ecosystems

3.2 Choice of local natural vegetation remains for reference ecosystem

3.3 Surveys in reference ecosystems

3.4 Ecosystems in restoration process as intermediary goals

3.5 Functional lists of species for forest restoration

3.6 Conclusion


4 Theoretical bases for forest restoration: ecological processes as vegetation regulators

4.1 Formation and organization of vegetation

4.2 Regeneration ecology and its application to restoration

4.3 Final thoughts


5 Theoretical bases for forest restoration: ecological succession and a model to describe the restoration process

5.1 Ecological succession

5.2 Glade dynamics

5.3 Proposition of a phase model for the forest restoration process

5.4 Final thoughts


6 Diagnosis and environmental zoning of spatial units for ecological restoration

6.1 Environmental diagnosis for forest restoration purposes

6.2 Conclusion


7 Methods of forest restoration: areas that allow the initial use of natural regeneration

7.1 Factors that affect the possibility of initial use of natural regeneration in ecological restoration

7.2 Natural regeneration evaluation

7.3 Natural regeneration management

7.4 Methodologies

7.5 Conclusion


8 Forest restoration methods: areas in which the initial use of natural regeneration is not possible

8.1 Seedling planting in total area

8.2 Direct sowing

8.3 Superficial forest soil transposition

8.4 Conclusion


9 Operational procedures for application of forest restoration methods

9.1 Concepts applied to evaluation and monitoring

9.2 Indicators for evaluation and monitoring of areas in the process of restoration

9.3 Example of a monitoring protocol for forest restoration

9.4 Conclusion


10 Evaluation and monitoring of forest restoration projects

10.1 Operational procedures for restoration

10.2 Maintenance

10.3 Equipment, supplies, operational income and restoration costs

10.4 Conclusion



11 Production of native species seeds for forest restoration

11.1 Where to gather seeds of regional native species?

11.2 From how many trees must be gathered seeds of regional native species?

11.3 Matrix marking for seed gathering of regional native species

11.4 When to gather fruits for seed extraction?

11.5 How to gather fruits?

11.6 How to process seeds?

11.7 How to stock seeds?

11.8 Final thoughts


12 Native species seedling production for forest restoration

12.1 Nursery implantation

12.2 Strategies to increase floristic and genetic diversity in seedlings

12.3 Seedling production planning

12.4 Sowing

12.5 Recipient

12.6 Substrate preparation

12.7 Seedling establishment

12.8 Sapling growth

12.9 Hardening

12.10 Expedition

12.11 Summary of the process for native species seedling production

12.12 Final thoughts


13 Income through large-scale forest restoration in a context of environmental and agricultural adequacy of farms

13.1 Work generation

13.2 Income generation

13.3 Final considerations




Annex: identification key to select the best forest restoration methods



Forest restoration is an emergent activity around the world and has been changing very quickly from only a field of investigation in Applied Ecology to become a professional and economic activity. Within this context human resources capacitation for acting in forest restoration is necessary and urgent. However, being a multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary activity par excellence brings great challenges for professionals to conciliate knowledge about Ecology, Botany, Forestry, Soil Science, Economics and Social Sciences among others. Before this challenge its perceptible the shortage of didactic books to support the restorer capacitation initiatives academically and as a university extension.

Before this context the main objectives of this book are 1) to provide basic information for students or professionals interested or already acting in forest restoration can comprehend the history and the conceptual bases which sustain this activity; 2) to apply this theoretic knowledge and the practical experience cumulated for choosing properly and conscient of the best restoration methods for each situation of degradation precisely diagnosed in field; 3) to orient the most efficient way to implement these methods in field, in geological, operational and cost related terms, with an adequate definition and rightly planned actions of restoration and also 4) to monitor, based in obtained results, the effectiveness of the chosen method and restoration application actions, allowing to diagnose if the restoration course is adequate or if there’s a need for correctional actions or adaptive management.

Although it has been written by three scientists, professors and researchers from University of São Paulo (USP), this is not a characteristically scientific book, but a technical, practical, very concerned in to sustain the forest restoration actions on scientific fundaments. This book proposes reflections and general guidelines for forest restoration, always highlighting the law enforcement, the sustainability of the farming activity and the well-being of society in general. These reflections and guidelines were sustained in scientific literature and above all by the very practical experience and the authors’ world perspective.

The chapters are richly illustrated with images from the wide authors’ collection, resulted from the many years of field experience implementing, visiting and collaborating in projects of forest restoration. The intention with so many illustrations is to ease the understanding of concepts and the presented examples besides turning the book more attractive to undergraduate and graduate students and professionals of the area which are the main target audience of this book. As such, the book is based on using the most didactic language possible without presenting endless quotes to scientific papers through the text but recommending a few complementary readings at the end of each chapter, intuiting to complement and continue the reader’s apprenticeship. Within each chapter were also included two text boxes in the printed edition and many others were available online intending to discuss, complement and illustrate the content based in knowledge of the top names in forest restoration. Their valuable collaboration is one of the main differentials of this book for it allows an approximation of the readers with the professional’s practical experience, widening knowledge horizons and even partnerships. But despite the contribution intended with this book there are a few reservations. Although ecologic restoration can be applied to recover different types of vegetation, the focus of this book is on tropical and subtropical forests restoration, therefore, the presented information is referred to forests and not to non-forest vegetation. To non-forest vegetation is needed to know a lot about these formations dynamics, and even though a few aspects here discussed can be applied to other types of vegetation it will always be necessary to seek more information other than those presented in this book so it can be built the necessary scientific basis for thinking and properly executing the ecologic restoration of these other vegetational types.

Additionally, the authors’ accumulated experience in many years of praxis of forest restoration expressed in this book were acquired mainly in very fragmented farming landscapes presenting particularities and limitations for the expression of natural regeneration of biodiverse forests. At that, most likely there’ll be a contextual bias in the presented orientations, which must always be reflected and properly contextualized in the restorer’s reality before implementation. Thus, this book mustn’t be understood as recipes for tropical forest restoration but as a conceptual and practical guide for identification of processes which define the success or the failure of forest restoration initiatives, and for orientation, not prescription, for seeking more promising paths leading to more satisfactory results.

Finally, is expected for this book to contribute with the formation and academic and professional update of current and future forest restorers, collaborating with the progress, in quantity and quality, of forest restoration.