Mapping Forest Conservation, Vulnerability, and Restoration

Maps with threat magnitude levels of (A) “Overexploitation,” (B) “Overgrazing,” (C) “Landslides,” (D) “Fragmentation,” (E) “Short-term threats (combined),” and (F) “Climate change” for the distribution range of wild walnut populations in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Source: Gaisberger et al. 2020

Crops and indigenous trees often coexist in a traditional agricultural landscape. Such trees can benefit crops by help improving water availability, soil health, and biodiversity. Under increasing demographic and climatic pressures, however, the biodiversity of indigenous tree species are being threatened.

To support the planning of tree conservation and restoration efforts, Hannes Gaisberger and Tobias Fremout at the Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT have developed a research method for mapping the vulnerability on food tree species by combining detailed geospatial analysis on key threats with data on the distribution of target tree species and their sensitivities to the threats. Tree habitat suitability is modeled using the maximum entropy and ensemble modeling approaches. This methodology has been applied in different agricultural ecosystems, including parklands in Burkina Faso, dry forests in Peru and Ecuador, and wild walnut trees in Central Asia. In each case study, they identified the vulnerable areas where target tree species are highly threatened by different types of risk factors and where priority should be given to implement the conservation efforts.

Learn more about the Alliance’s tree vulnerability mapping work from the Tree Diversity website ( and the following research papers:

Gaisberger, H., Kindt, R., Loo, J., Schmidt, M., Bognounou, F., Da, S.S., Diallo, O.B., Ganaba, S., Gnoumou, A., Lompo, D. and Lykke, A.M., 2017. Spatially explicit multi-threat assessment of food tree species in Burkina Faso: A fine-scale approach. PLoS One12(9), p.e0184457.

Fremout, T., Thomas, E., Gaisberger, H., Van Meerbeek, K., Muenchow, J., Briers, S., Gutierrez‐Miranda, C.E., Marcelo‐Peña, J.L., Kindt, R., Atkinson, R. and Cabrera, O., 2020. Mapping tree species vulnerability to multiple threats as a guide to restoration and conservation of tropical dry forests. Global change biology26(6), pp.3552-3568.

Gaisberger, H., Legay, S., Andre, C., Loo, J., Azimov, R., Aaliev, S., Bobokalonov, F., Mukhsimov, N., Kettle, C. and Vinceti, B., 2020. Diversity under threat: connecting genetic diversity and threat mapping to set conservation priorities for Juglans regia L. populations in Central Asia. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution8, p.171.