An international team led by Brazilian researchers recently published a study in the journal Nature showing that restoring habitats that are currently degraded by agricultural activity is key to mitigating climate change impacts and avoiding animal species extinction. The study analyzed data from 2.87 billion hectares (7.09 billion acres) of natural areas worldwide that were transformed into farmland over the years, assessing forests, grasslands, shrublands, wetlands and arid ecosystems all over the globe. Researchers used three criteria to evaluate optimal outcomes — biodiversity conservation, mitigation of climate change, and costs — with the best restoration solutions combining the highest biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation with the lowest costs possible. They modeled 1,200 scenarios combining these elements using different restoration approaches. They note that different objectives point out distinct restoration areas and strategies: recovery of forest areas is the priority when the goal is to mitigate climate change effects, while the restoration of wetlands is of the highest importance when the objective is to conserve biodiversity. Arid ecosystems and grasslands are the most cost-effective areas for restoration. Though all continents harbor areas that best combine the three criteria, most of the priority areas for restoration were determined to be in the world’s tropics. Preserving natural habitats and restoring 30% of the total converted lands focusing in these regions would save 71% of animal species from extinction and absorb 465 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere — roughly half of all carbon emitted since the start of the Industrial Revolution.…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer