Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Active restoration accelerates the carbon recovery of human-modified tropical forests

Philipson, Christopher D.; Cutler, Mark E. J.; Brodrick, Philip G.; Asner, Gregory P.; Boyd, Doreen S.; Costa, Pedro Moura; Fiddes, Joel; Foody, Giles M.; Van Der Heijden, Geertje M.F.; Ledo, Alicia; Lincoln, Philippa R.; Margrove, James A.; Martin, Roberta E.; Milne, Sol; Pinard, Michelle A.; Reynolds, Glen; Snoep, Martijn; Tangki, Hamzah; Wai, Yap Sau; Wheeler, Charlotte E.; Burslem, David F. R. P.


Christopher D. Philipson

Mark E. J. Cutler

Philip G. Brodrick

Gregory P. Asner

Professor of Earth Observation

Pedro Moura Costa

Joel Fiddes

Professor of Geographical Information

Alicia Ledo

Philippa R. Lincoln

James A. Margrove

Roberta E. Martin

Sol Milne

Michelle A. Pinard

Glen Reynolds

Martijn Snoep

Hamzah Tangki

Yap Sau Wai

Charlotte E. Wheeler

David F. R. P. Burslem


More than half of all tropical forests are degraded by human impacts, leaving them threatened with conversion to agricultural plantations and risking substantial biodiversity and carbon losses. Restoration could accelerate recovery of aboveground carbon density (ACD), but adoption of restoration is constrained by cost and uncertainties over effectiveness. We report a long-term comparison of ACD recovery rates between naturally regenerating and actively restored logged tropical forests. Restoration enhanced decadal ACD recovery by more than 50%, from 2.9 to 4.4 megagrams per hectare per year. This magnitude of response, coupled with modal values of restoration costs globally, would require higher carbon prices to justify investment in restoration. However, carbon prices required to fulfill the 2016 Paris climate agreement [$40 to $80 (USD) per tonne carbon dioxide equivalent] would provide an economic justification for tropical forest restoration.


Philipson, C. D., Cutler, M. E. J., Brodrick, P. G., Asner, G. P., Boyd, D. S., Costa, P. M., …Burslem, D. F. R. P. (2020). Active restoration accelerates the carbon recovery of human-modified tropical forests. Science, 369(6505), 838-841.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 19, 2020
Online Publication Date Aug 14, 2020
Publication Date Aug 14, 2020
Deposit Date Sep 1, 2020
Publicly Available Date Feb 15, 2021
Journal Science
Print ISSN 0036-8075
Electronic ISSN 1095-9203
Publisher American Association for the Advancement of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 369
Issue 6505
Pages 838-841
Public URL
Publisher URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations