Look down— there is a gap— the need to include soil data in Atlantic Forest restoration

Consideration of soil quality indicators is fundamental for understanding and managing ecosystems. Despite the evidence regarding the importance of soil for provision of local and global ecosystem services, such as water regulation and carbon sequestration, soil remains an under-investigated and undermined aspect of the environment. Here we evaluate to what extent soil indicators are taken into account in restoration. We focused on the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, a highly fragmented biome and a global biodiversity hotspot. We conducted a systematic literature review and we showed that the majority (59%) of the studies on restoration did not consider any soil indicator. Studies that demonstrated the importance of soil indicators most commonly reported soil pH (71%, n=44), followed by potassium content (66%, n=41) and phosphorus (64.5%, n=40), while the least reported indicator was water retention (6.5%, n=4). Only 40% of the retrieved studies included information about reference sites or project baseline information. We complement our literature review with a case study on restoration in two areas of the Atlantic Forest. We found a relation between soil indicators such as soil organic matter, nitrogen, sodium and sand content, and aboveground indicators, confirming a necessity to include soil screening in restoration. Moreover, we found that prior to restoration none of these soil indicators were analyzed. This study highlights the gap that exists in soil data in restoration in studies on the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. We urge scientists and practitioners to include basic soil analysis to maximize the successful outcomes of restoration.

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