Where Tree Planting and Forest Expansion are Bad for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Academic Article uri icon


  • 2015 The Author(s). Misperceptions about the world's grassy biomes contribute to their alarming rates of loss due to conversion for agriculture and tree plantations, as well as to forest encroachment. To illustrate the causes and consequences of these misperceptions, we show that the World Resources Institute and the International Union for Conservation of Nature misidentified 9 million square kilometers of ancient grassy biomes as providing "opportunities" for forest restoration. Establishment of forests in these grasslands, savannas, and open-canopy woodlands would devastate biodiversity and ecosystem services. Such undesired outcomes are avoidable if the distinct ecologies and conservation needs of forest and grassy biomes become better integrated into science and policy. To start with, scientists should create maps that accurately depict grassy biomes at global and landscape scales. It is also crucial that international environmental agreements (e.g., the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) formally recognize grassy biomes and their environmental values.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 228.154

author list (cited authors)

  • Veldman, J. W., Overbeck, G. E., Negreiros, D., Mahy, G., Le Stradic, S., Fernandes, G. W., ... Bond, W. J.

citation count

  • 240

complete list of authors

  • Veldman, Joseph W||Overbeck, Gerhard E||Negreiros, Daniel||Mahy, Gregory||Le Stradic, Soizig||Fernandes, G Wilson||Durigan, Giselda||Buisson, Elise||Putz, Francis E||Bond, William J

publication date

  • January 2015