Main content area

Hidden Costs of Passive Restoration

Zahawi, Rakan A., Reid, John L., Holl, Karen D.
Restoration ecology 2014 v.22 no.3 pp. 284-287
abandoned land, developing countries, forage grasses, forest restoration, land tenure, tropical forests
The first few years of tropical forest restoration can be expensive, especially when applied to expansive areas. In light of this, passive restoration has been recommended as a considerably cheaper or even free alternative. There are, however, both direct and indirect costs associated with passive restoration. First, the longer recovery time that is typically required in passive restoration can be perceived as project failure, especially when compared with nearby active restoration efforts. In the worst‐case scenario, this can lead to the premature termination of a project by a landowner who would like to see more rapid or visible results. Second, passive restoration may be viewed as land abandonment, and in developing nations where land tenure is not always strictly enforced this may invite unanticipated uses, such as ranchers who may unintentionally or intentionally allow livestock to take advantage of the “unused” forage grass, thus setting back recovery efforts. Lastly, passive restoration does have direct financial costs, including material costs for establishing fences and repairing them, and labor costs for site vigilance. These upfront investments may need to be made repeatedly in passive restoration efforts, and for a longer time period than for an active restoration project. Both the direct and indirect costs should be considered prior to choosing passive restoration as a strategy in a particular restoration project.