Bringing Brazil’s forests back from the brink: on a shoestring

River through a forest

UKRI-NERC fellow Dr Cristina Banks-Leite has devoted herself to saving the forests of her homeland in São Paulo, where one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, the Atlantic Forest, has suffered great losses due to deforestation for agriculture in recent years.

Dr Banks-Leite’s research identified the minimum forest cover required to maintain biodiversity (30%), a threshold that has now been employed as the official target for restoration in the Atlantic Forest by the Brazilian government.

Furthermore, this could be achieved at an expected cost of just 0.01% of Brazilian GDP. Cristina’s work has provided the Brazilian government with evidence of the economic feasibility of a compensation programme for farmers to both enhance biodiversity and reduce poverty.

Cristina has extended her work on ecological thresholds to Costa Rica. She is currently developing a technique to establish levels of biodiversity from acoustic recordings, the results of which will enable her to identify minimum amount of forest required to preserve biodiversity.

Last updated: 11 March 2021

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