Carefully planned restoration of the coffee agricultural landscape can increase farmers’ profits and forest cover over 40 years, according to a study published May 23 in the journal Open Access. Biology PLUS By Dr. Sofia Lopez-Cubelos at the University of Queensland in Australia and colleagues.
Restoring patches of natural vegetation on farmland offers a trade-off for farmers: while lost farmland can reduce profitability, increases in ecosystem services such as pollination can improve crop yields. To investigate how conservation priorities can be balanced with economic needs, researchers developed a new planning framework for modeling the effects of forest restoration on agricultural profits, taking into account the beneficial impact of pollinators. They considered the best spatial arrangement of forest restoration to achieve one of two goals—restoring forests while also expanding agriculture, or just restoring forests—and applied that to a case study of coffee farming in Costa Rica.
They divided the study area into a grid of more than 60,000 squares and estimated current coffee productivity, bee abundance, and profitability for each square. Calculating coffee profits five years later and 40 years into the future under a variety of restoration scenarios, they found that strategically allocating land to agriculture and forestry can increase economic returns, compared to the baseline at which the current landscape was preserved. Over a 5-year period, prioritizing restoration was more profitable than strategies that simultaneously expanded farmland. After 40 years, strategically balancing conservation with agricultural profits could increase forest cover by 20% while doubling profits for landowners, even when farmland is replaced by forest.
The study is the first to look at how long-term changes in pollinator abundance affect the costs and benefits of forest restoration across agricultural landscapes. The results show that, with careful planning, pursuing conservation goals can improve economic outcomes for farmers, rather than being a burden, the authors say.
López-Cubillos adds, “The abundance of bees and the pollination services they provide can increase through restoration. This study explored trade-offs between coffee profitability and forest restoration, finding that within five years profits increased by nearly 90% after restoration and forest area restored by 20%.” .
Lopez-Cubelos S, McDonald-Maden E, Mayfield MM, Running RK. Optimum restoration of pollination services increases forest cover while doubling agricultural profits, PLoS Biology (2023). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3002107
the quote: Strategic Habitat Restoration Can Make a Win-Win for Foresters and Farmers (2023, May 23) Retrieved May 23, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-05-strategic-habitat-generate-win-win-forests. programming language
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