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Forests for Lemurs

An Ecological Restoration Dilemma

By Ariadna Mondragon-Botero, Susan M. Galatowitsch

Forests for Lemurs



In this case study, board members of a private forest reserve on the island of Madagascar seek funds for a forest restoration aimed at preserving endangered lemurs. During their monthly meeting, they discuss the details of a grant proposal that would fund a significant reforestation project involving a choice between the use of native or introduced (non-native) plant species. Through small group discussions, students explore the advantages and disadvantages of each approach, applying concepts such as endemism, endangered species, plant-animal interactions, and ecological restoration. Students practice using ecological information and weighing uncertainties to make decisions that are typical in real world ecological restorations and that potentially have long-term consequences. Students also gain a deeper understanding of issues associated with introduced species as a conservation threat. The case is designed for upper-level courses in ecology, restoration ecology, or conservation biology, with optional modifications available for advanced or postgraduate-level students, or lower-level courses in environmental science or ecology.


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  • Identify major barriers and uncertainties related to restoring suitable habitat for endemic animals like lemurs.
  • Analyze risks and benefits associated with different forest restoration options.
  • Describe the challenges of relying on restoration as a way to reverse habitat loss and explain why some kinds of habitat are harder to restore than others.
  • Evaluate the tradeoffs associated with restoration that targets a single species (or closely related groups of species) versus restoration intended to support biodiversity more generally.
  • Design a monitoring plan that evaluates the successful accomplishment of the objectives of a restoration choice (advanced version).


Restoration ecology; ecological restoration; forest restoration; endemic species; introduced species; native species; forest management; ecology; lemurs; Madagascar


Subject Headings

Biology (General)
Botany / Plant Science
Environmental Science
Natural Resource Management
Wildlife Management


Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division, Graduate












Analysis/Issues, Dilemma/Decision, Role-Play



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