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São Francisco de Assis, Brazil

Santilli C.,Alpes Environmental Consultancy and Engineering Agency | Durigan G.,Forestry Institute of the State of Sao Paulo
Scientia Forestalis/Forest Sciences | Year: 2014

Among the principles established by the Society for Ecological Restoration International - SER is that the use of exotic species for restoration purposes should be avoided, and this is outlined on the two first attributes expected of a restored ecosystem by the SER Primer. This recommendation is possibly based on the hypothesis that exotics will dominate the restored communities and jeopardize the local biodiversity. We assessed the current plant community in an area of the Brazilian Cerrado undergoing restoration, where 42 species - 6 natives and 36 non-natives - were planted, and compared it with the contiguous native community. We aimed at verifying if the surrounding native community has been invaded by alien species, and if the community being restored has been dominated by the latter, not resembling the native flora. Eight years after planting, the alien species were not recorded in the surrounding native ecosystem. In the community undergoing restoration, despite 94% of the planted trees being exotics (86% of the species) they corresponded to only 3% of plants regenerating (14% of the species), indicating that floristic similarity with the native vegetation is increasing over time. We consider that the non-native species planted do not offer threat to the native ecosystems in the vicinity, and tend to be defeated by the natives in the long term. Even though, public policies should prioritize and make feasible the use of native species, better adapted to the harsh environmental conditions of the Cerrado.


Durigan G.,Forestry Institute of the State of Sao Paulo | Brancalion P.H.S.,University of Sao Paulo | Aronson J.,CNRS Center of Evolutionary and Functional Ecology | Aronson J.,Missouri Botanical Garden
Restoration Ecology | Year: 2015

Despite growing worldwide commitment to large-scale ecosystem restoration, national public policies on restoration are few, and those that exist tend to be vague. Brazil and especially São Paulo state stand out. In a pioneering attempt to improve restoration projects and their outcomes, the Secretariat for the Environment of the State of São Paulo has enacted a legal instrument to drive planning and to assess whether the goals and targets of mandatory ecological restoration are being achieved. Regardless of the restoration techniques applied, the effectiveness of mandatory or public-funded projects will henceforth be assessed by using three ecological indicators: (1) ground coverage with native vegetation; (2) density of native plants spontaneously regenerating; and (3) number of spontaneously regenerating native plant species. We analyze how this science-based legal framework is expected to promote greater restoration success, improve cost-effectiveness, and help bridge the all-too-familiar knowledge-action gap in environmental policies. Notably, scientists, professionals, public agents, and stakeholders from different institutions have collaborated to advance the refinement and rolling out of this legal instrument. By 2037, it is expected that more than 300,000 restoration projects will be carried out in São Paulo state and monitored using this set of indicators. We also suggest that this approach could be usefully applied to the growing number of ecological restoration programs being carried out worldwide, especially in the context of offset policies intended to achieve serious compensation for environmental degradation or loss of biodiversity. © 2015 Society for Ecological Restoration.


Durigan G.,Forestry Institute of the State of Sao Paulo | Melo A.C.G.,Forestry Institute of the State of Sao Paulo | Brewer J.S.,University of Mississippi
Plant Ecology and Diversity | Year: 2012

Background: The Brazilian savanna, or Cerrado, has been described as an 'upside-down forest', with higher below-ground than above-ground biomass. The cerrado vegetation, ranging from open grasslands to forests, comprises a wide range of ecological conditions and plant biomass.Aims: To determine if and how root:shoot ratio in 102 trees differed between open- (cerrado sensu stricto) and closed-canopy cerrado (cerradão) within the same region in south-eastern Brazil.Methods: Differences in root:shoot ratios and environmental conditions between the two cerrado types were examined, by uprooting and weighing trees from different species and functional groups.Results: Root:shoot ratio was higher in the open than in the closed cerrado, especially among deciduous species. Root:shoot ratio in the open cerrado was lower than reported for the same cerrado type in central Brazil. Soil fertility did not differ between cerrado types, but soil water was lower and light availability was higher in the open cerrado.Conclusions: The lower root:shoot ratio in closed than in open cerrado is probably a response to lower light and higher soil water availability, and/or to less frequent fires. Estimates of above-ground carbon storage alone significantly underestimate the carbon stock in open relative to closed cerrado. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.


Aronson J.,CNRS Center of Evolutionary and Functional Ecology | Aronson J.,Missouri Botanical Garden | Brancalion P.H.S.,University of Sao Paulo | Durigan G.,Forestry Institute of the State of Sao Paulo | And 15 more authors.
Restoration Ecology | Year: 2011

Around the world, there is growing desire and momentum for ecological restoration to happen faster, with better quality, and in more extensive areas. The question we ask is how can laws and governmental regulations best contribute to effective, successful, and broad-scale restoration? In the state of São Paulo, Brazil, there is a legal instrument (SMA 08-2008) whose aim is to increase the effectiveness of tropical forest restoration projects in particular. It establishes, among other things, requirements regarding the minimum number of native tree species to be reached within a given period of time in restoration projects and the precise proportion of functional groups or threatened species to be included when reforestation with native species is used as a restoration technique. There are, however, two differing perspectives among Brazilian restoration ecologists on the appropriateness of such detailed legal rules. For some, the rules help increase the chances that mandatory projects of ecological restoration will succeed. For the other group, there is no single way to achieve effective ecosystem restoration, and the existing science and know-how are far from sufficient to establish standardized technical and methodological norms or to justify that such norms be imposed. Both points of view are discussed here, aiming to help those developing new legislation and improving existing laws about ecological restoration. The precedents established in São Paulo, and at the federal level in Brazil, and the ongoing debate about those laws are worth considering and possibly applying elsewhere. © 2011 Society for Ecological Restoration International.

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