Restoring habitat for fire-impacted species' across degraded Australian landscapes

Ward, Michelle, Tulloch, Ayesha, Stewart, Romola, Possingham, Hugh P., Legge, Sarah, Gallagher, Rachael V., Graham, Erin M., Southwell, Darren, Keith, David, Dixon, Kingsley, Yong, Chuanji, Carwardine, Josie, Cronin, Tim, Reside, April E., and Watson, James E.M. (2022) Restoring habitat for fire-impacted species' across degraded Australian landscapes. Environmental Research Letters, 17 (8). 084036.

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In the summer of 2019-2020, southern Australia experienced the largest fires on record, detrimentally impacting the habitat of native species, many of which were already threatened by past and current anthropogenic land use. A large-scale restoration effort to improve degraded species habitat would provide fire-affected species with the chance to recover and persist in burnt and unburnt habitat. To facilitate this, decision-makers require information on priority species needs for restoration intervention, the suite of potential restoration interventions, and the priority locations for applying these interventions. We prioritize actions in areas where restoration would most likely provide cost-effective benefits to priority species (defined by each species proportion of habitat burned, threat status, and vulnerability to fires), by integrating current and future species habitat suitability maps with spatially modelled costs of restoration interventions such as replanting, removing invasive species, and implementing ecologically appropriate fire management. We show that restoring the top similar to 69% (112 million hectares) of the study region (current and future distributions of priority species) accounts for, on average, 95% of current and future habitat for every priority species and costs similar to AUD$73 billion yr(-1) (AUD$650 hectare(-1) yr(-1)) annualized over 30 years. This effort would include restoration actions over 6 million hectares of fire-impacted habitat, costing similar to AUD$8.8 billion/year. Large scale restoration efforts are often costly but can have significant societal co-benefits beyond biodiversity conservation. We also show that up to 291 MtCO2 (similar to 150 Mt DM) of carbon could be sequestered by restoration efforts, resulting in approximately AUD$253 million yr(-1) in carbon market revenue if all carbon was remunerated. Our approach highlights the scale, costs, and benefits of targeted restoration activities both inside and outside of the immediate bushfire footprint over vast areas of different land tenures.

Item ID: 75827
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1748-9326
Keywords: restoration, Australia, carbon market value, restoration costs, conservation planning, cost benefit, land use
Copyright Information: © 2022 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd. Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: FT210100655
Research Data:
Date Deposited: 24 Aug 2022 07:39
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410405 Environmental rehabilitation and restoration @ 25%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410407 Wildlife and habitat management @ 25%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1806 Terrestrial systems and management > 180601 Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems @ 50%
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1806 Terrestrial systems and management > 180604 Rehabilitation or conservation of terrestrial environments @ 50%
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