Optimizing investments in forest restoration to promote ecosystem services
Restoration of degraded lands provides multiple benefits to people. Due to economic constraints and tradeoffs among benefits, prioritization can improve returns on investments in restoration. Benefits of forest restoration vary spatially and depend on landscape configuration. Here, we present a framework to determine optimal land use scenarios that maximize multiple objectives for restoration. In order to improve rural livelihoods, Uganda aims to increase forest cover by over 30% by 2025. Based on historical patterns of degradation in Uganda between 1990 and 2005, we identify potential land for restoration and use a suite of spatially-explicit models to quantify the provision of multiple ecosystem services under various scenarios.
Considering economic and other constraints on restoration, we find efficiency frontiers for optimal restoration scenarios that maximize multiple objectives. The efficiency frontiers suggest spatial misalignment of potential benefits from restoration and tradeoffs between achieving multiple objectives. However, at some points along the efficiency frontier, there are particular regions that show agreement between multiple objectives and thus serve as high priorities for restoration. Using spatial optimization that considers multiple objectives and constraints, investments in forest restoration can be better targeted to maximize benefits to people.