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Restoration ecology

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Recently constructed wetland regeneration in Australia, on a site previously used for agriculture
Recently constructed wetland regeneration in Australia, on a site previously used for agriculture
Rehabilitation of a portion of Johnson Creek, to restore bioswale and flood control functions of the land which had long been converted to pasture for cow grazing. The horizontal logs can float, but are anchored by the posts. Just-planted trees will eventually stabilize the soil. The fallen trees with roots jutting into the stream are intended to enhance wildlife habitat. The meandering of the stream is enhanced here by a factor of about three times, perhaps to its original course.
Rehabilitation of a portion of Johnson Creek, to restore bioswale and flood control functions of the land which had long been converted to pasture for cow grazing. The horizontal logs can float, but are anchored by the posts. Just-planted trees will eventually stabilize the soil. The fallen trees with roots jutting into the stream are intended to enhance wildlife habitat. The meandering of the stream is enhanced here by a factor of about three times, perhaps to its original course.

Restoration ecology is the scientific study supporting the practice of ecological restoration, which is the practice of renewing and restoring degraded, damaged, or destroyed ecosystems and habitats in the environment by active human intervention and action.

Many people recognize that biodiversity has an intrinsic value and that we have a responsibility to conserve it for future generations.[1] Natural ecosystems provide ecosystem services in the form of resources such as food, fuel, and timber; the purification of air and water; the detoxification and decomposition of wastes; the regulation of climate; the regeneration of soil fertility; and the pollination of crops. These ecosystem processes have been estimated to be worth trillions of dollars annually.[2][1] There is consensus in the scientific community that the current environmental degradation and destruction of many of the Earth's biota is taking place on a "catastrophically short timescale".[3] Scientists estimate that the current species extinction rate, or the rate of the Holocene extinction, is 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than the normal, background rate.[4][5][6]Habitat loss is the leading cause of both species extinctions[6] and ecosystem service decline.[2] Two methods have been identified to slow the rate of species extinction and ecosystem service decline, they are the conservation of currently viable habitat, and the restoration of degraded habitat. The commercial applications of ecological restoration have increased exponentially in recent years.[7]

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  • Conservation and Restoration Ecology: Crash Course Ecology #12
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For the past 12 weeks, we've been investigating our living planet together and learning how it works on many levels, how populations of organisms interact, how communities thrive and ecosystems change, and how humans are wrecking the nice, perfectly functioning systems Earth has been using for hundreds of thousands of years. And now it's graduation day! This here is like the commencement speech, where I talk to you about the future and our role in it, and how what we're doing to the planet is totally awful, but we're taking steps to undo some of the damage that we've done. So what better way to wrap up our series on ecology than by taking a look at the growing fields of conservation biology and restoration ecology. These disciplines use all the kung fu moves that we've learned about in the past 11 weeks and apply them to protecting ecosystems and cleaning up messes that we've already made. And one of the main things they teach us is that doing these things is difficult, like, in the way that uncooking bacon is difficult. So let's look at what we're doing, and try to uncook this unbelievably large pile of bacon we've made! Just outside of Missoula, Montana, where I live, we've got a Superfund site. Not Superfun...Superfund. A hazardous waste site that the government is in charge of cleaning up. The mess here was made more than a hundred years ago, when there was a dam in the Clark Fork River behind me called the Milltown Dam. This part of Montana has a long history of copper mining, and back in 1908, there was a humongous flood that washed about 4.5 million cubic meters of mine tailings chock full of arsenic and toxic heavy metals into the Clark Fork River. And most of it washed into the reservoir created by the Milltown dam. I mean, actually it was lucky that the dam was there, it had only been completed six months before, or the whole river system, all the way to the Pacific Ocean, would have been a toxic mess. As it happened, though, only about 160 kilometers of the river was all toxic-messed-up. A lot of it recuperated over time, but all that nasty hazardous waste was still sitting behind Milltown Dam, and some of it leached into the groundwater that started polluting nearby resident's wells. So scientists spent decades studying the extent of the damage caused by the waste and coming up with ways to fix it. And from 2006 to 2010, engineers carefully removed all the toxic sediment as well as the dam itself. Now, this stretch of the Clark Fork River runs unimpeded for the first time in over a century, and the restored area where the dam used to be is being turned into a state park. Efforts like this show us conservation biology and restoration ecology in action. Conservation biology involves measuring the biodiversity of an ecosystem and determining how to protect it. In this case, it was used to size up the health of fish populations in the Clark Fork River, which were severely affected by the waste behind the dam, and the dam blocking their access to spawning grounds upstream, and figuring out how to protect them during the dams removal. Restoration ecology, meanwhile, is the science of restoring broken ecosystems, like taking an interrupted, polluted river and turning it into what you see taking shape here. These do-gooder, fix-it-up sciences are practical rather than theoretical, by which I mean, in order to fix something that's broken, you've got to have a good idea of what's making it work to begin with. If something was wrong with the expansion of the Universe, we wouldn't be able to fix it because we have no idea, at all, what's making all that happen. So in order to fix a failing ecosystem, you have to figure out what was holding it together in the first place. And the glue that holds every ecosystem together is biodiversity. But then of course, biodiversity can mean many different things. So far we've generally used it to mean species diversity, or the variety of species in an ecosystem. But there are also other ways of thinking about biodiversity that help conservation biologists and restoration ecologists figure out how to save species and repair ecosystems. In addition to the diversity of species, ecologists look at genetic diversity within a species as a whole and between populations. Genetic diversity is important because it makes evolution possible by allowing a species to adapt to new situations like disease and climate change. And then another level of biodiversity has to do with ecosystem diversity, or the variety of different ecosystems within an area. A big ol' forest, for example, can host several kinds of ecosystems, like wetland, alpine, and aquatic ones. Just like we talked about when we covered ecological succession, the more little pockets you've got performing different functions, the more resilient the region will be as a whole. So, yeah, understanding all of this is really important to figuring out how to repair an ecosystem that is in shambles. But how do conservation biologists take the information about what makes an ecosystem tick and use it to save the place from going under? Well, there's more than one way to approach this problem. One way is called small-population conservation. This approach focuses on identifying species and populations that are really small, and tries to help boost their numbers and genetic diversity. Low population and low genetic diversity are kind of the death knell for a species. They actually feed off each other, one problem making the other problem worse, ultimately causing a species to spiral into extinction. See, when a tiny little population suffers from inbreeding or genetic drift, that is, a shift in its overall genetic makeup, this leads to even less diversity, which in turn causes lower reproduction rates and higher mortality rates, which makes the population smaller still. This terrible little dynamic is known by the awesome term extinction vortex. The next step is to figure out how small a population is too small. Ecologists do this by calculating what's called the minimum viable population, which is the smallest size at which a population can survive and sustain itself. To get at this number, you have to know the real breeding population of, say, grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park, and then you figure out everything you can about a grizzly's life history: how long they live, who gets to breed the most, how often they can have babies, that kind of thing. After all that information is collected, ecologists can run the numbers and figure out that for the grizzlies in Yellowstone, a population of, say hypothetically, 90 bears would have about a 95% chance of surviving for 100 years, but if there were a population of 100 bears, the population would likely be able to survive for 200 years. Something to note: ecology involves a lot of math. So if you're interested in this, that's just the way it is. So, that's the small-population approach to conservation. Another way of preserving biodiversity focuses on populations whose numbers are in decline, no matter how large the original population was. This is known as declining population conservation, and it involves answering a series of related questions that get at the root of what's causing an organism's numbers to nosedive. First, you have to determine whether the population is actually declining. Then, you have to figure out how big the population historically was and what its requirements were. And finally, you have to get at what's causing the decline and figure out how to address it. Milltown Dam actually gives us a good example of this process. In the winter of 1996, authorities had to release some of the water behind the dam as an emergency measure, because of a big ice flow in the river that was threatening to break the dam. But when they released the water, a bunch of toxic sediment went with it, which raised the copper concentrations downriver to almost 43 times what state standards allowed. As a result, it's estimated about half of the fish downstream died. Half the fish! Dead! And researchers have been monitoring the decline in populations ever since. This information was really helpful in determining what to do with the dam. Because we knew what the fish population was like before and after the release of the sediment, it was decided that it would be best to get the dam out as soon as possible, rather than risk another 1996 scenario. Which brings me to the place where conservation biology and restoration ecology intersect. Restoration ecology is kind of where the rubber meets the road in conservation biology. It comes up with possible solutions for ecological problems. Now, short of a time machine, which I'm working on, you can't really get a natural environment exactly the way it used to be. But you can at least get rid of whatever is causing the problem and help re-create some of the elements that the ecosystem needs to function properly. All this involves a whole suite of strategies. For instance, what's happening in Milltown is an example of structural restoration, basically the removal and cleanup of whatever human impact was causing the problem. In this case, the dam and the toxic sediments behind it. And then the rebuilding of the historical natural structure, here the meanders of the river channel and the vegetation. Another strategy is bioremediation, which recruits organisms temporarily to help remove toxins, like bacteria that eat wastes or plants that leach out metals from tainted soils. Some kinds of fungi and bacteria are even being explored as ways to bio-remediate oil spills. Yet another, somewhat more invasive restoration method is biological augmentation. Rather than removing harmful substances, this involves adding organisms to the ecosystem to restore materials that are gone. Plants that help fix nitrogen like beans, acacia trees and lupine are often used to replenish nitrogen in soils that have been damaged by things like mining or overfarming. And ecologists sometimes add mycorrhizal fungi to help new plantings like native grass take hold. But of course, we're just humans, and we're not as smart as millions of years of evolution. Sometimes we get things wrong. For example, when you bring an invasive species into a place to eradicate an invasive species, sometimes you just end up with two invasive species on your hands, which collapses the ecosystem even more rapidly. The introduction of cane toads to Australia in the 1930s to control beetles is a particularly infamous example. Not only are they everywhere now but because they're toxic they're poisoning native species like dingos that try to eat them. Nice. So you know what? I have an idea. After spending the past couple of weeks talking about ecological problems, I've come to the conclusion that it's just easier to protect ecosystems rather than trying to fix them. Because we know a lot about what makes ecosystems tick, so if we spend more time trying to save them from us and our stuff, we'll spend less time cleaning up after ourselves and running the risks of getting it wrong. Because as we all know, the sad fact is: uncooking bacon is impossible. But we can eat it. Thank you for joining me on this quick three-month jaunt through the natural world, I hope it made you smarter not just in terms of passing your exams but also in terms of being a Homo-sapien that inhabits this planet more wisely. And thank you to everyone who helped us put these episodes together: our technical director Nick Jenkins, our editor Caitlin Hoffmeister, our writers Blake DePastino, Jesslyn Shields and myself, our sound designer Michael Aranda, and our animators and designers Peter Winkler and Amber Bushnell. And the good news is: there's more Crash Course coming at you soon. If you have any questions or comments or ideas, we're on Facebook and Twitter, and of course, down in the comments below. We'll see you next time.



Restoration ecology is the academic study of the process, whereas ecological restoration is the actual project or process by restoration practitioners. The Society for Ecological Restoration defines "ecological restoration" as an "intentional activity that initiates or accelerates the recovery of an ecosystem with respect to its health, integrity and sustainability".[8] Ecological restoration includes a wide scope of projects including erosion control, reforestation, removal of non-native species and weeds, revegetation of disturbed areas, daylighting streams, reintroduction of native species (preferably native species that have local adaptation), and habitat and range improvement for targeted species.

E. O. Wilson, a biologist, states, "Here is the means to end the great extinction spasm. The next century will, I believe, be the era of restoration in ecology."[9]

History of restoration ecology

Restoration ecology emerged as a separate field in ecology in the late twentieth century. "Restoration ecology" was not first formally identified as a distinct scientific field until the late twentieth century. The term was coined by John Aber and William Jordan III when they were at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.[10] However, indigenous peoples, land managers, stewards, and laypeople have been practicing ecological restoration or ecological management for thousands of years.[11]

Considered the birthplace of modern ecological restoration, the first tallgrass prairie restoration was the 1936 Curtis Prairie at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum.[12][10] Civilian Conservation Corps workers replanted nearby prairie species onto a former horse pasture, overseen by university faculty including renowned ecologist Aldo Leopold, botanist Theodore Sperry, mycologist Henry C. Greene, and plant ecologist John T. Curtis. Curtis and his graduate students surveyed the whole of Wisconsin, documenting native species communities and creating the first species lists for tallgrass restorations.[13] Existing prairie remnants, such as locations within pioneer cemeteries and railroad rights-of-way, were located and inventoried by Curtis and his team. The UW Arboretum was the center of tallgrass prairie research through the first half of the 20th century, with the development of the nearby Greene Prairie, Aldo Leopold Shack and Farm, and pioneering techniques like prescribed burning.[12]

The latter-half of the 20th century saw the growth of ecological restoration beyond Wisconsin borders. The 285-hectare Green Oaks Biological Field Station at Knox College began in 1955 under the guidance of zoologist Paul Shepard. It was followed by the 40-hectare Schulenberg Prairie at the Morton Arboretum, started in 1962 by Ray Schulenberg and Bob Betz. Betz then worked with The Nature Conservancy to establish the 260-hectare Fermi National Laboratory tallgrass prairie in 1974.[14] These major tallgrass restoration projects marked the growth of ecological restoration from isolated studies to widespread practice.

Australia has also been the site of historically significant ecological restoration projects. In 1935 Ambrose Crawford commenced restoring a degraded four acres (1.7 hectares) patch of the Big Scrub (Lowland Tropical Rainforest) at Lumley Park reserve, Alstonville, in northern New South Wales. Clearing of weeds and planting of suitable indigenous flora species were his main restoration techniques. The restored rainforest reserve still exists today and is home to threatened plant and animal species. In 1936 Albert Morris and his restoration colleagues initiated the Broken Hill regeneration area project, which involved the natural regeneration of indigenous flora on a severely degraded site of hundreds of hectares in arid western New South Wales. Completed in 1958, the successful project still maintains ecological function today as the Broken Hill regeneration area.[15]

Theoretical foundations of restoration ecology

Restoration ecology draws on a wide range of ecological concepts.


Disturbance is a change in environmental conditions that disrupts the functioning of an ecosystem. Disturbance can occur at a variety of spatial and temporal scales, and is a natural component of many communities.[16] For example, many forest and grassland restorations implement fire as a natural disturbance regime. However the severity and scope of anthropogenic impact has grown in the last few centuries. Differentiating between human-caused and naturally occurring disturbances is important if we are to understand how to restore natural processes and minimize anthropogenic impacts on the ecosystems.


Ecological succession is the process by which a community changes over time, especially following a disturbance. In many instances, an ecosystem will change from a simple level of organization with a few dominant pioneer species to an increasingly complex community with many interdependent species. Restoration often consists of initiating, assisting, or accelerating ecological successional processes, depending on the severity of the disturbance.[17] Following mild to moderate natural and anthropogenic disturbances, restoration in these systems involves hastening natural successional trajectories. However, in a system that has experienced a more severe disturbance (i.e. physical or chemical alteration of the environment), restoration may require intensive efforts to recreate environmental conditions that favor natural successional processes.


Habitat fragmentation describes spatial discontinuities in a biological system, where ecosystems are broken up into smaller parts through land use changes (e.g. agriculture) and natural disturbance. This both reduces the size of the populations and increases the degree of isolation. These smaller and isolated populations are more vulnerable to extinction. Fragmenting ecosystems decreases quality of the habitat. The edge of a fragment has a different range of environmental conditions and therefore supports different species than the interior. Restorative projects can increase the effective size of a population by adding suitable habitat and decrease isolation by creating habitat corridors that link isolated fragments. Reversing the effects of fragmentation is an important component of restoration ecology.[18]

Ecosystem function

Ecosystem function describes the most basic and essential foundational processes of any natural systems, including nutrient cycles and energy fluxes. An understanding of the complexity of these ecosystem functions is necessary to address any ecological processes that may be degraded. Ecosystem functions are emergent properties of the system as a whole, thus monitoring and management are crucial for the long-term stability of ecosystems.[citation needed]A fully functional ecosystem that is completely self-perpetuating is the ultimate goal of restorative efforts.

Community assembly

Community assembly "is a framework that can unify virtually all of (community) ecology under a single conceptual umbrella".[19] Community assembly theory attempts to explain the existence of environmentally similar sites with differing assemblages of species. It assumes that species have similar niche requirements, so that community formation is a product of random fluctuations from a common species pool.[20] Essentially, if all species are fairly ecologically equivalent, then random variation in colonization, and migration and extinction rates between species, drive differences in species composition between sites with comparable environmental conditions.[citation needed]

Population genetics

Genetic diversity has shown to be as important as species diversity for restoring ecosystem processes.[21] Hence ecological restorations are increasingly factoring genetic processes into management practices. Population genetic processes that are important to consider in restored populations include founder effects, inbreeding depression, outbreeding depression, genetic drift, and gene flow. Such processes can predict whether or not a species successfully establishes at a restoration site.[22][23]

Applications of restoration ecology

Soil heterogeneity effects on community heterogeneity

Spatial heterogeneity of resources can influence plant community composition, diversity, and assembly trajectory. Baer et al. (2005) manipulated soil resource heterogeneity in a tallgrass prairie restoration project. They found increasing resource heterogeneity, which on its own was insufficient to insure species diversity in situations where one species may dominate across the range of resource levels. Their findings were consistent with the theory regarding the role of ecological filters on community assembly. The establishment of a single species, best adapted to the physical and biological conditions can play an inordinately important role in determining the community structure.[24]

Invasion and restoration

Restoration is used as a tool for reducing the spread of invasive plant species in a number of ways. The first method views restoration primarily as a means to reduce the presence of invasive species and limit their spread. As this approach emphasizes control of invaders, the restoration techniques can differ from typical restoration projects.[25][26] The goal of such projects is not necessarily to restore an entire ecosystem or habitat.[27] These projects frequently use lower diversity mixes of aggressive native species seeded at high density.[28] They are not always actively managed following seeding.[29] The target areas for this type of restoration are those which are heavily dominated by invasive species. The goals are to first remove the species and then in so doing, reduce the number of invasive seeds being spread to surrounding areas. This approach has been shown to be effective in reducing weeds, although it is not always a sustainable solution long term without additional weed control, such as mowing, or re-seeding.[26][29][30][31]

Restoration projects are also used as a way to better understand what makes an ecological community resistant to invasion. As restoration projects have a broad range of implementation strategies and methods used to control invasive species, they can be used by ecologists to test theories about invasion.[29] Restoration projects have been used to understand how the diversity of the species introduced in the restoration affects invasion. We know that generally higher diversity prairies have lower levels of invasion.[32] Incorporation of functional ecology has shown that more functionally diverse restorations have lower levels of invasion.[33] Furthermore, studies have shown that using native species functionally similar to invasive species are better able to compete with invasive species.[34][35] Restoration ecologists have also used the variety of strategies employed at different restoration sites to better understand the most successful management techniques to control invasion.[36]

Successional trajectories

Progress along a desired successional pathway may be difficult if multiple stable states exist. Looking over 40 years of wetland restoration data, Klötzli and Gootjans (2001) argue that unexpected and undesired vegetation assemblies "may indicate that environmental conditions are not suitable for target communities".[37] Succession may move in unpredicted directions, but constricting environmental conditions within a narrow range may rein in the possible successional trajectories and increase the likelihood of a desired outcome.

Sourcing material for restoration

For most restoration projects it is generally recommend to source material from local populations, to increase chance of restoration success and minimize the effects of maladaptation.[38] However the definition of local can vary based on species. habitat and region.[39] US Forest Service recently developed provisional seed zones based on a combination of minimum winter temperature zones, aridity, and the Level III ecoregions.[40] Rather than putting strict distance recommendations, other guidelines recommend sourcing seeds to match similar environmental conditions. For example, sourcing for Castilleja levisecta found that farther source populations that matched similar environmental variables were better suited for the restoration project than closer source populations.[41]

Principles of ecological restoration

Ecosystem restoration for the superb parrot on an abandoned railway line in Australia
Ecosystem restoration for the superb parrot on an abandoned railway line in Australia


There are many reasons to restore ecosystems. Some include:

Buffelsdraai Community Reforestation Project.
Forest restoration in action at the Buffelsdraai Landfill Site Community Reforestation Project in South Africa

There exist considerable differences of opinion in how to set restoration goals and how to define their success among conservation groups. Some urge active restoration (e.g. eradicating invasive animals to allow the native ones to survive) and others who believe that protected areas should have the bare minimum of human interference, such as rewilding. Ecosystem restoration has generated controversy. Skeptics doubt that the benefits justify the economic investment or who point to failed restoration projects and question the feasibility of restoration altogether. It can be difficult to set restoration goals, in part because, as Anthony Bradshaw claims, "ecosystems are not static, but in a state of dynamic equilibrium…. [with restoration] we aim [for a] moving target."

Some conservationists argue that, though an ecosystem may not be returned to its original state, the functions of the ecosystem (especially ones that provide services to us) may be more valuable than its current configuration (Bradshaw 1987). One reason to consider ecosystem restoration is to mitigate climate change through activities such as afforestation. Afforestation involves replanting forests, which remove carbon dioxide from the air. Carbon dioxide is a leading cause of global warming (Speth, 2005) and capturing it would help alleviate climate change. Another example of a common driver of restoration projects in the United States is the legal framework of the Clean Water Act, which often requires mitigation for damage inflicted on aquatic systems by development or other activities.[44]

Restored prairie at the West Eugene Wetlands in Eugene, Oregon.
Restored prairie at the West Eugene Wetlands in Eugene, Oregon.

Ecological restoration challenges

Some view ecosystem restoration as impractical, partially because restorations often fall short of their goals. Hilderbrand et al. point out that many times uncertainty (about ecosystem functions, species relationships, and such) is not addressed, and that the time-scales set out for 'complete' restoration are unreasonably short, while other critical markers for full-scale restoration are either ignored or abridged due to feasibility concerns.[45] In other instances an ecosystem may be so degraded that abandonment (allowing a severely degraded ecosystem to recover on its own) may be the wisest option.[46] Local communities sometimes object to restorations that include the introduction of large predators or plants that require disturbance regimes such as regular fires, citing threat to human habitation in the area.[47] High economic costs can also be perceived as a negative impact of the restoration process.

Public opinion is very important in the feasibility of a restoration; if the public believes that the costs of restoration outweigh the benefits they will not support it.[47]

Many failures have occurred in past restoration projects, many times because clear goals were not set out as the aim of the restoration, or an incomplete understanding of the underlying ecological framework lead to insufficient measures. This may be because, as Peter Alpert says, "people may not [always] know how to manage natural systems effectively".[48] Furthermore, many assumptions are made about myths of restoration such as carbon copy, where a restoration plan, which worked in one area, is applied to another with the same results expected, but not realized.[45]

Science-practice gap

One of the struggles for both fields is a divide between restoration ecology and ecological restoration in practice. Currently, many restoration practitioners as well as scientists feel that science is not being adequately incorporated into ecological restoration projects.[49][50][51][52] In a 2009 survey of practitioners and scientists, the "science-practice gap" was listed as the second most commonly cited reason limiting the growth of both science and practice of restoration.

There are a variety of theories about the cause of this gap. However, it has been well established that one of the main issues is that the questions studied by restoration ecologists are frequently not found useful or easily applicable by land managers.[49][53] For instance, many publications in restoration ecology characterize the scope of a problem in depth, without providing concrete solutions.[53] Additionally many restoration ecology studies are carried out under controlled conditions and frequently at scales much smaller than actual restorations.[29] Whether or not these patterns hold true in an applied context is often unknown. There is evidence that these small-scale experiments inflate type II error rates and differ from ecological patterns in actual restorations.[54][55]

There is further complication in that restoration ecologists who want to collect large-scale data on restoration projects can face enormous hurdles in obtaining the data. Managers vary in how much data they collect, and how many records they keep. Some agencies keep only a handful of physical copies of data that make it difficult for the researcher to access.[56] Many restoration projects are limited by time and money, so data collection and record keeping are not always feasible.[50] However, this limits the ability of scientists to analyze restoration projects and give recommendations based on empirical data.

Contrasting restoration ecology and conservation biology

Restoration ecology may be viewed as a sub-discipline of conservation biology, the scientific study of how to protect and restore biodiversity. Ecological restoration is then a part of the resulting conservation movement.

Both restoration ecologists and conservation biologists agree that protecting and restoring habitat is important for protecting biodiversity. However, conservation biology is primarily rooted in population biology. Because of that, it is generally organized at the population genetic level and assesses specific species populations (i.e. endangered species). Restoration ecology is organized at the community level, which focuses on broader groups within ecosystems.[57]

In addition, conservation biology often concentrates on vertebrate animals because of their salience and popularity, whereas restoration ecology concentrates on plants. Restoration ecology focuses on plants because restoration projects typically begin by establishing plant communities. Ecological restoration, despite being focused on plants, may also have "poster species" for individual ecosystems and restoration projects.[57] For example, the Monarch butterfly is a poster species for conserving and restoring milkweed plant habitat, because Monarch butterflies require milkweed plants to reproduce. Finally, restoration ecology has a stronger focus on soils, soil structure, fungi, and microorganisms because soils provide the foundation of functional terrestrial ecosystems.[58][59]

Natural Capital Committee's recommendation for a 25-year plan

The UK Natural Capital Committee (NCC) made a recommendation in its second State of Natural Capital report published in March 2014 that in order to meet the Government's goal of being the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than it was inherited, a long-term 25-year plan was needed to maintain and improve England's natural capital. The UK Government has not yet responded to this recommendation.

The Secretary of State for the UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson, described his ambition for the natural environment and how the work of the Committee fits into this at an NCC event in November 2012: "I do not, however, just want to maintain our natural assets; I want to improve them. I want us to derive the greatest possible benefit from them, while ensuring that they are available for generations to come. This is what the NCC's innovative work is geared towards".[60]

Related journals

  • Restoration Ecology, journal of the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER)[61]
  • Ecological Management & Restoration, published by the Ecological Society of Australia (ESA)[62]
  • Ecological Restoration, published by the University of Wisconsin Press [63]

See also



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  2. ^ a b Daily, Gretchen C. (1997). "Ecosystem Services: Benefits Supplied to Human Societies by Natural Ecosystems" (PDF). Issues in Ecology.
  3. ^ Novacek, Michael J.; Cleland, Elsa E. (2001-05-08). "The current biodiversity extinction event: Scenarios for mitigation and recovery". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 98 (10): 5466–5470. doi:10.1073/pnas.091093698. PMC 33235. PMID 11344295.
  4. ^ Pimm, Stuart L.; Russell, Gareth J.; Gittleman, John L.; Brooks, Thomas M. (1995-07-21). "The Future of Biodiversity". Science. 269 (5222): 347–350. doi:10.1126/science.269.5222.347. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 17841251.
  5. ^ Simberloff, Daniel (January 1996). "Lawton, J. H. and May, R. M. (Eds.). Extinction Rates. 1995. Oxford University Press, Oxford. xii + 233 pp. ISBN 0-19-854829. X. Price: f17.95". Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 9 (1): 124–126. doi:10.1046/j.1420-9101.1996.t01-1-9010124.x. ISSN 1010-061X.
  6. ^ a b Sciences, National Academy of (1988-01-01). "Biodiversity". doi:10.17226/989.
  7. ^ Young, T. P.; Petersen, D. A.; Clary, J. J. (2005-04-28). "The ecology of restoration: historical links, emerging issues and unexplored realms". Ecology Letters. 8 (6): 662–673. doi:10.1111/j.1461-0248.2005.00764.x. ISSN 1461-023X.
  8. ^ Society for Ecological Restoration International Science & Policy Working Group (2004). "The SER International Primer on Ecological Restoration" (PDF). & Tucson: Society for Ecological Restoration International.
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External links

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