Project 12.2 'Harnessing natural regeneration for cost-effective rainforest restoration'

Project 12.2 'Harnessing natural regeneration for cost-effective rainforest restoration'

The project is focused on naturally regenerating forests (regrowth) and their potential to offer a much needed low cost option to restore critical habitat over large areas. It will assist decisions about how to most efficiently restore biodiversity to degraded rainforest landscapes, by providing new knowledge about the outcomes of lower-cost regrowth (including potential for minimum intervention management). This knowledge will directly complement existing information about outcomes of active higher-cost reforestation (tree-planting) enabling a proper evaluation of the cost and benefits of a full suite of restoration approaches. This will help planners and practitioners to choose the most appropriate restoration method for any particular ecological and economic context. The project will combine three inter-related approaches: field investigation and data analyses of how regrowth rainforest develops and how it differs from replanted rainforest; information synthesis and field trials of novel approaches to accelerate regrowth development; and landscape analysis to identify areas of highest potential for low-cost regrowth.

The work will focus on the biodiversity-rich and climate-sensitive Wet Tropics uplands, where previous research by the Project Leaders into biodiversity outcomes of tree-planting projects (Catterall) and likely future landscape-scale climate refugia (Shoo) provides a strong basis for this project.

Project objectives at a glance

The project has three objectives, which are inter-related and will be pursued concurrently, with increased emphasis on Objective (c) towards the end of the project.

  • (a) Quantify the rate and pattern of development of vegetation during rainforest regrowth following cessation of agricultural use, and how this compares with the outcomes of publicly-funded restoration by tree-planting.
  • (b) Investigate, trial and promote emerging technologies for the acceleration and redirection of rainforest regrowth, to overcome ecological barriers or thresholds that inhibit rainforest redevelopment (in collaboration with WTMA Caring for Our Country project).
  • (c) Identify locations and situations where passive restoration (unassisted regrowth) is a preferable alternative to high-cost active restoration (replanting).

Specific objectives and intended outputs of this Project are detailed in the NERP TE Hub Multi-Year Research Plan.

Final Factsheet

Natural regeneration and rainforest restoration - outcomes, pathways and management of regrowth



Link to the Project 12.2 homepage on e-Atlas

Trees for the Evelyn and Atherton Tablelands


Project Duration: 
1 Jul 2011 to 31 Dec 2014


Project Outputs