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Restoration Ecology

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Jennifer Dever

on 12 March 2015

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Transcript of Restoration Ecology

Restoration Ecology
Why Restoration?
Each system has a THRESHOLD – beyond which it can no longer recover, once started degradation self-perpetuating.
Ecological Restoration is different from the 3 Rs:
Restoration Ecology is CHALLENGING!
Central Concerns of Restoration Ecology
Lack of Knowledge (some knowledge of the original "un-degraded" state is needed [HISTORICAL ECOLOGY]; plus knowledge of how to actually restore functionality needed)
Scale & Feasibility (projects must me manageable)
Continued monitoring and adaptive management costly
Once a system is pushed beyond threshold - it has lost the capacity for self-repair and is unable to prevent additional degradation
The only way it can recover is with major human intervention.

1) The damaging agent must be removed
2) If remnant populations are nearby, the original communities may become reestablished on their own – provided the required nutrients/ soil is available
This requires a source of colonists
If not, species must be physically reintroduced
3) Invasive species may dominate the site thus they must be removed prior to restoration
Oftentimes new habitat is created through mitigation process to compensate for loss of a site

applying the principles of ecology to the practice of restoration
The 3 R's are NOT Restoration
Revegetation – process in which plants re-colonize a disturbed site.
Rehabilitation – visual improvements of a disturbed land…to look like it’s former self.
Reclamation – preparation and enhancement of degraded land to fulfill its former use or a new use.

Ecological restoration is the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed.
Reestablish the function, components, structure and complexity of the site
Relies on cooperative intervention (ecosystem mgt. approach)
Creates a self sustaining, persistent system

Hard to define the ecosystem – and, ecosystems are dynamic and continually changing.
Technology not available.
Labor intensive and costly.
The final product is considered inferior/ less natural than historic systems.


1990 - Ecological restoration is the process of intentionally altering a site to establish a defined, indigenous, historic ecosystem. The goal of the process is to emulate the structure, function, diversity, and dynamics of the specified ecosystem.
1994 - Ecological restoration is the process of repairing damage caused by humans to the diversity and dynamics of indigenous ecosystems.
1996 - Ecological restoration is the process of assisting the recovery and management of ecological integrity. Ecological integrity includes a critical range of variability in biodiversity, ecological processes and structures, regional and historical context, and sustainable cultural practices.
2004 - Ecological restoration is the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed.
Mangroves recolonized the area naturally following restoration of the hydrology (1981-1996)
Success depends upon:
Knowledge of underlying cause of degradation
Clear objectives and time frame
Participation of all stakeholders
Climate change/large-scale change factors
Monitoring and use of feedback for adaptive management (from IUCN, 2012)
Crissy Field: SF's premier restoration project
"A 2012 study in PLOS Biology looked at 621 wetland projects and found most had failed to deliver promised results, or match the performance of natural systems, even decades after completion."
(Conniff, 2014)
Shift towards restoration in conservation
legally mandated: rehabilitation/restoration of disturbed areas required for mitigation
growing interest in native vegetation for landscaping: 'Big Business'
sheer scale and rate of destruction had driven need for restoration

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