OCELOTS

Online Content for Experiential Learning of Tropical Systems

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Restoring tropical forests: Is planting clusters of trees a cost-effective and ecologically-sound strategy to restore tropical forest?

Author(s): Karen Holl1, Rakan Zahawi2

1. University of California, Santa Cruz 2. Charles Darwin Foundation, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

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Summary:
This module (available in four languages) provides a broad introduction to both ecological and social aspects of tropical forest restoration. It focuses on a long-term study comparing three tropical forest restoration strategies in southern Costa…

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This module (available in four languages) provides a broad introduction to both ecological and social aspects of tropical forest restoration. It focuses on a long-term study comparing three tropical forest restoration strategies in southern Costa Rica.

Description

Overview of Module 

Nearly two decades ago we started a multi-site study in southern Costa Rica to compare the efficacy of tropical forest restoration strategies including natural forest regeneration (allowing the site to recover without planting trees), plantation-style tree planting, and applied nucleation (planting clusters of trees to help increase the rate of natural regeneration). In this module we outline the obstacles to tropical forest restoration and the rationale for one restoration approach over another. We then compare the ecological and social outcomes of these three restoration strategies. Finally, we ask students to consider what ecological and social conditions are best suited to using an applied nucleation forest restoration strategy. Student activities include an exercise on reading bar graphs, an R-shiny app to visualize seed rain patterns, and a podcast on social challenges to restoration.

Learning objectives

  • Increase knowledge of the ecological and social barriers to tropical forest recovery
  • Compare the ecological and social outcomes of applied nucleation with other forest restoration strategies
  • Recognize that restoration strategies have to be tailored to local ecological and social conditions
  • Improve students’ ability to interpret scientific figures
  • Recognize the importance of replicating restoration studies or projects at multiple sites

Support was provided by: Grant from the United States National Science Foundation (DBI-RCN-UBE 2120141, DEB 14-56520, and DEB-20-16623).

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