Four projects funded within NWO-FAPESP joint Call ‘Ecosystem restoration: the Brazilian Atlantic Forest as a case study’

4 June 2019

Within the NWO-FAPESP joint Call ‘Ecosystem restoration: the Brazilian Atlantic Forest as a case study’, four transnational projects have been selected for funding. The funded projects combined will focus on biodiversity, ecosystem services and multi-functional landscape use, all aiming at contributing to effective restoration and sustainable use of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. NWO provides funding up to 350.000 euros per project, FAPESP funds the Brazilian researchers. The projects will be starting from May 2019.

Worldwide biodiversity is under threat due to mounting pressures, like climate change, agricultural expansion and intensification and population growth. The degradation of biodiversity reduces ecosystem services that are essential for both human wellbeing and wildlife preservation. Therefore, long-term sustainable solutions need to be developed to conserve biodiversity at various spatial scales, from local to regional to global.

The extent of the Atlantic Forest in 1500 and 2012.The extent of the Atlantic Forest in 1500 and 2012. Colours represent the Atlantic Forest subregions.

The Atlantic Forest Biome in Brazil is the fourth-ranking global hotspot for biodiversity and, at the same time, one of the most impacted rainforest areas in the world. Currently only about 15% of its original area persists while the remaining forests are highly fragmented within agricultural landscapes, leading to a further biodiversity decline. In order to support conservation, restoration and to promote sustainable use of the Atlantic Forest, FAPESP and NWO have joined forces to stimulate collaborations between researchers in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, and in The Netherlands.

Funded projects

Understanding restored forests for benefiting people and nature

Investigator in Charge and PI: Prof. P.H.S. Brancalion (USP/ESALQ, Brazil) & Prof. F. Bongers (WUR, Netherlands); co-PIs: Prof. R. R. Rodrigues (USP/ESALQ), Prof. P.G. Molin (UFSCar); Prof. L. Poorter (WUR), Prof. M. Peña Claros (WUR)

Large-scale restoration in the Atlantic Forest region needs novel upscaling from thousands to millions of  hectares. This project evaluates how upscaling from plot-based inventories to large-scale planning and design is possible, taking into account ecological functions, forest services and human perceptions. We determine characteristics of new forests and their drivers of regeneration and deforestation, assess their aboveground diversity and structure, evaluate key forest functions based on functional traits, predict new forests’ potential contributions to ecosystem services provisioning, and develop novel policies and market instruments to foster and stimulate new forests. In an era of ambitious restoration commitments and societal demands for ecosystem services, we provide alternative landscape developments and promote a sustainable future of the Atlantic Forest region.

Governing the Atlantic Forest transition: Improving our knowledge on forest recovery for ecosystem services

Prof. dr. R.G.A. Boot and Dr. R.W. Verburg (Utrecht University), Dr. A. Camargo Martensen (Federal University of São Carlos, Natural Science Centre – Lagoa do Sino, UFSCar), Dr. P.A. Verweij (Utrecht University), A. Duden, MSc. (Utrecht University), Dr. A. Uezu (Ecological Research Institute IPÊ).

The project aims to 1) identify shared rules and values of stakeholders, current barriers and enabling policy environments for the implementation of ‘Payments of Ecosystem Services’ (PES) in support of reforestation and forest conservation, and 2) spatially mapping ecosystem services and measuring the temporal changes along chrono-sequences of natural forest patches, agroforestry, plantations and pastures in homogeneous and heterogeneous landscapes. The project addresses how multi-functional landscapes can be effectively managed to optimize goods and services throughout these landscapes. The socio-ecological systems that constitute forests, ecosystem services and (local) actors need to be better understood for effective management. For this a good understanding of the social dimension is needed, including political and economic trends and the balance among social and ecological costs-and-benefits. Integrating these types of knowledge will allow us to better upscale restoration and conservation efforts.

Applying the “biotic soil legacy” approach to understand positive-negative biota interactions for direct forest restoration from plant-soil communities feedbacks

Prof. dr. Wim van der Putten (NIOO-KNAW, Netherlands), Prof. Tsai Siu Mui (USP/CENA, Brazil), Prof. Quirijn de Jong van Lier (USP/CENA) and Dr. Stefan Geisen (NIOO)

Plants and soils are in constant interaction, and net effects of all physical, chemical and biological processes that contribute to these interactions are resulting in a so-called ‘plant-soil feedback’ that is known to be critical for the restoration of original plant communities and ecosystem properties. The aim of this project is to investigate how plant-soil feedbacks operate in primary and secondary Atlantic Forest, and how feedbacks in currently de-forested areas may influence opportunities for successful restoration of original tree species diversity and forest ecosystem functioning. Data on areas with less or more suitable opportunities for plant-soil feedback interactions to forest plant/tree species will allow us to advice how to improve and speed up an Atlantic Forest restoration.

The contribution of plant-animal interactions to biodiversity and ecosystem restoration of the Atlantic forest

Prof. dr. Merel Soons, Dr. Marijke van Kuijk, Robert Timmers MSc (Utrecht University); Dr. Marina Côrtes, Dr. Marco Pizo (UNESP); Dr. Mathias Pires (UNICAMP); Prof. dr. Jaboury Ghazoul (UU & ETH Zurich)

Forest recovery and restoration lead to an increase of secondary forests, which are expected to be different from pristine forests in terms of their plant and animal communities. This project addresses the complex interactions between plants and animals in recovering and restored forest patches to evaluate their contribution to forest ecosystem functioning and the provisioning of ecosystem services including carbon sequestration. Based on our findings, we will identify priority areas within the Atlantic forest region that are most suitable for recovery and restoration, and develop guidelines to promote plant-frugivore interactions that enhance biodiversity and carbon sequestration where needed.

Source: NWO