By Pedro Brancalion, Ludmila Siqueira, Nino Amazonas, Mayte Rizek, Alex Mendes, Edson Santiami, Ricardo Rodrigues, Miguel Calmon, Reubens Benini, Julio Tymus, Karen Holl, and Rafael Chaves.
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The implementation of Brazil´s restoration target of 12 million hectares could be an important new source of jobs, with potential to alleviate poverty and social inequalities. Although ecosystem restoration has been broadly promoted to generate environmental benefits, it is critical to understand the capacity of this activity to contribute to human wellbeing. Past and current initiatives such as the Civilian Conservation Corps in the United States, the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, the Working for Water in South Africa, and the Grain for Green in China, are emblematic of the enormous potential of restoration activities to generate green jobs, but this potential has been rarely assessed in a systematic way.
We created and widely distributed an online survey in 2020 through the main restoration networks in Brazil to explore the structure, job distribution, and outputs of the national restoration supply chain. Our assessment revealed that restoration is a complex, multistakeholder activity with marked geographical differences and potential to alleviate the economic shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic in the most vulnerable. We estimated that each hectare of restoration creates 0.42 jobs, which is nearly double the previous estimates of restoration jobs in Brazil, and indicates the potential to create 1.0 to 2.5 million direct jobs through the implementation of the aforementioned national restoration target.
We conclude by reinforcing the potential value of ecosystem restoration to promote economic development and the creation of jobs, which can be crucial for the effective engagement of countries in the U.N. Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Grassroots organizations may play a key role to maximize restoration opportunities for the socioeconomic development in times of post-pandemic economic recovery.