Meli, P., Martínez‐Ramos, M., Rey‐Benayas, J. M., & Carabias, J. (2014). Combining ecological, social and technical criteria to select species for forest restoration. Applied vegetation science, 17(4), 744-753.

Question: How to evaluate and integrate relevant ecological, social and technical criteria to select species to be introduced in restoration projects of highly diverse ecosystems such as tropical riparian forests.

Location: Riparian forest, Marques de Comillas municipality, southeast Mexico (16°54′N, 92°05′W).

Methods: We proposed a ‘species selection index’ (SSI) using five independent criteria related to ecological, social and technical information. SSI targeted species that (1) are important in the reference forest; (2) are less likely to establish following disturbance; (3) are not specific to a particular habitat; (4) are socially accepted; and (5) their propagation requires a reasonable time and financial investment. SSI may range between zero and 50, with higher values meaning higher potential for restoration purposes.

Results: Out of a local pool of 97 species, we identified 30 target tree species that together represented >60% of total importance value index in the reference riparian forests. SSI averaged 28.3  1.0 over the studied species, suggesting that species with high values are not frequent. For 20 species, reintroduction by means of active forest restoration was deemed necessary. Species that established through natural regeneration, following secondary regrowth, had lower social value among local farmers. Nearly half of the identified species showed technical constraints for easy propagation and seeding.

Conclusions: The proposed procedure is useful for selecting species to initiate forest restoration projects and of other woody ecosystems that harbour high biodiversity, and is suitable for several stakeholders interested in restoration.