The Kew Declaration

Trees, and the forests they form, are highly complex and deserve our care and consideration. The escalating and interconnected threats of biodiversity loss through deforestation have led to some notable global initiatives.

One of these is the Kew Declaration. The declaration provides clear recommendations to restore the world’s forests in a way that is sustainable by protecting biodiversity, mitigating climate change and improving livelihoods.

Tree planting is often portrayed as an easy answer to the climate crisis and effective mitigation for corporate carbon emissions, but the solution is not that simple. Planting the wrong trees in the wrong place can cause considerably more damage than benefits, failing to benefit either people or nature.

The Kew Declaration is based on a synthesis of evidence, discussions and conclusions presented at the Reforestation for Biodiversity, Carbon Capture and Livelihoods conference, hosted by Kew and Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) on 24–26 February 2021. Over 2,400 delegates took part in the conference, representing views from a wide range of reforestation practitioners, policymakers, funders, businesses, NGOs and researchers from 113 countries. 


The Declaration is supported by evidence published in scientific literature, including the Ten golden rules for reforestation review paper. 

10 Golden Rules for Reforestation

1. Protect existing forest first

Before planning reforestation, always look for ways to protect existing forests, including old- and second-growth, degraded and planted forests. 

2. Work together
Involve all stakeholders and make local people integral to the project. 

3. Aim to maximize biodiversity recovery to meet multiple goals
Restoring biodiversity facilitates other objectives—carbon sequestration, ecosystem services and socio-economic benefits. 

4. Select appropriate areas for reforestation
Avoid previously non-forested lands, connect or expand existing forests, and be aware of displacing activities that will cause deforestation elsewhere. 

5. Use natural regeneration wherever possible
Natural regeneration can be cheaper and more effective than tree planting where site and landscape conditions are suitable. 

6. Select species to maximize biodiversity
Plant a mix of species, prioritize natives, favour mutualistic interactions and exclude invasive species. 

7. Use resilient plant material
Obtain seeds or seedlings with appropriate genetic variability and provenance to maximize population resilience. 

8. Plan ahead for infrastructure, capacity and seed supply
From seed collection to tree planting, develop the required infrastructure, capacity and seed supply system well in advance, if not available externally. Always follow seed quality standards. 

9. Learn by doing
Base restoration interventions on the best ecological evidence and indigenous knowledge. Perform trials prior to applying 
techniques on a large scale. Monitor appropriate success indicators and use results for adaptive management.

10. Make it pay
Develop diverse, sustainable income streams for a range of stakeholders. 


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