Ecological restoration of degraded land is a global concern. Tropical dry forest is one of the most threatened ecosystems in Colombia, with only 7% of its original cover remaining. Its restoration is a priority for the country but presents challenges, not least due to seasonal rains and long dry seasons that can impact the survivorship of planted material.
To improve the effectiveness of restoration action in tropical fry forest, ResTOOL was developed to help in the appropriate choice of species and identify seed sources for the project site that meet the desired restoration objectives. ResTOOL also takes into account climate change when choosing appropriate material, and includes information about the propagation of more than 300 tree species.
How does it work?
As a first step the user is invited to identify the area to be restored on a map that shows the distribution of seasonally dry tropical forest in Colombia taking into account climatic conditions until 2030s. The number of tree species expected to be able to survive under current and future climate conditions, according to results of suitability modeling, is illustrated using a scale from green (low number of tree species) to red (high number).
Next, the user is asked to fill in an online form with information about the conditions of the site targeted for restoration action, how many and what type of species they wish to plant, and the restoration objectives.
a. The tool selects species from a list of all possible species suited to the habitat under current and future climate conditions for each selected area. The user can manually limit the pool of species used e.g. restrict the tool to consider species from a local list.
b. To select appropriate species combinations, the tool screens the functional traits of those tree species that are predicted to be able to persist at the chosen site and ranks them according to the trait profiles that best correspond to the restoration objectives and provide resistance against local environmental stress. With functional traits we refer here both to biological (morphological, physiological and reproductive traits among others) and non-biological traits (e.g. price per cubic meter of wood, conservation status according to IUCN, etc.) of tree species.
Finally, the tool generates information on combinations of tree species that are expected to be adapted to the environmental conditions at the restoration site, and are likely to show adaptive capacity, under current and future climatic conditions. Maps are generated to indicate from which areas planting material should be sourced. The idea is that for each species, planting material is obtained both from populations growing under environmental conditions that are similar to those that occur at the restoration site today, as well as to those that are expected to occur at the restoration site in the future.
The results are provided to the user as a report that can be downloaded directly or received by email. Propagation protocols of individual species can be downloaded through hyperlinks. The report is intended to serve as a guide for selecting appropriate species and seed sources for restoration of the specified site.