International commitments for ecosystem restoration add up to one-quarter of the world’s arable land. Fulfilling them would ease global challenges such as climate change and biodiversity decline but could displace food production and impose financial costs on farmers. Here, we present a restoration prioritization approach capable of revealing these synergies and trade-offs, incorporating ecological and economic efficiencies of scale and modelling specific policy options. Using an actual large-scale restoration target of the Atlantic Forest hotspot, we show that our approach can deliver an eightfold increase in cost-effectiveness for biodiversity conservation compared with a baseline of non-systematic restoration. A compromise solution avoids 26% of the biome’s current extinction debt of 2,864 plant and animal species (an increase of 257% compared with the baseline). Moreover, this solution sequesters 1 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent (a 105% increase) while reducing costs by US$28 billion (a 57% decrease). Seizing similar opportunities elsewhere would offer substantial contributions to some of the greatest challenges for humankind.
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The datasets generated during the current study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request. A free online platform for integrated land-use planning including these datasets will be available at www.iis-rio.org/ilup from 2019.
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The authors acknowledge the support and inputs from the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment, the Secretariat of the Convention of Biological Diversity and experts from the Intergovernmental Science—Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). B.B.N.S. acknowledges that this work was supported by the Serrapilheira Institute (grant number Serra-1709-19329). B.B.N.S., R.C., A.I. and A.L. acknowledge the support of the German Ministry of the Environment’s International Climate Initiative. R.L. thanks the CNPq (grant number 308532/2014-7) and the O Boticário Group Foundation for Nature Protection (grant number PROG_0008_2013). F.B., M.F.S. and A.S.T. thank CNPq (grant numbers 441929/2016-8 and 461572/2014-1). M.F.S. and A.S.T. thank CAPES (grant number 88887.145924/2017-00). The authors also acknowledge the support of I. L. Lucas in the preparation of the final version of the manuscript.
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Nature Ecology & Evolution (2019)