Post-fire ecological restoration in Latin American forest ecosystems: Insights and lessons from the last two decades
García, Rafael A.
PublisherForest Ecology and Management
DescriptionArtículo de publicación WOS - SCOPUS
MetadataShow full item record
Wildfires are responsible for a substantial loss of forest ecosystem services globally and represent a major driving force of forest degradation across Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC). The detrimental effect of forest fires is particularly relevant in regions where fire has been historically absent or has rarely occurred. Nowadays, there is an increasing interest to promote and develop ecological restoration (ER) following fire. LAC constitutes a hotspot where work and interest in ER has been steadily increasing over the last decades, mainly due to the drive of a new generation of young and experienced ecologists and foresters. Despite the increasing attention in post-fire restoration in the region, there is a dearth of initiatives compiling and organizing all the available information on this topic. This work aims to address such constraint, providing current information on post-fire ER in LAC forests. After a brief contextualization of environmental and social consequences of wildfires, we collect and discuss recent advances on restoring degraded forests. From the conifer Mexican ecosystems to the Southern Patagonian evergreen forests, we look back over the last two decades (2000–2020) mainly discussing experiences of success and failure, as well as limitations of implementing ap- proaches based on passive/natural restoration or active/assisted restoration. Furthermore, we also explore other aspects of the restoration process, including those related to social participation and community engagement (e. g. education in restored areas), the use of fire regulation and management to reduce fire risks and increase ecosystem resilience, educational aspects and intermediate approaches as agroforestry and silviculture practices. In the last sections, we identify three major categories of specific constraints that condition ER, including environmental limitations (biotic and abiotic factors), technical/management factors and the socio-economic challenge of restoration. Finally, we briefly discuss future perspectives for ER in LAC.