Natural Regeneration

Natural Regeneration is a Cost-effective Approach to Recover Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services, and Biocultural Values in Many Contexts

Naturally regenerating tropical forests can contribute to biodiversity conservation and provide economic benefits for smallholders. But this natural process is often ignored and/or misunderstood in restoration and development policy. Landscape conditions, prior land use, and socio-economic factors determine if natural regeneration will occur and what its qualities and conservation value will be. Diverse natural regeneration often occurs in areas of low land-use intensity and where forest remnants are present, conditions that often occur on steep slopes and in former shifting cultivation landscapes.

Intentionally using natural regeneration as a restoration strategy can significantly increase the cost-effectiveness of large-scale forest restoration. In many contexts, natural regeneration is a cost-effective approach to recover biodiversity, ecosystem services, and biocultural values. These forests can support ecotourism and be managed for sustainable harvests of fruit, medicine, firewood, and other non-timber products. But many naturally regenerating forests are cleared long before they are able to provide benefits for people and nature. New policy frameworks are needed to scale-up assisted and farmer-managed natural regeneration in ways that benefit local communities and farmers.