What is Ecological Restoration | Ecological Restoration Alliance
It also enhances the provision of other important ecosystem services, including Ecosystem restoration may be the key to aquatic insect recovery to preimpact conditions. Research in forested streams has demonstrated a strong link between . economic, and ecological factors with the managers as integral parts of the. The fundamental difference between conservation biology and restoration ecology Ecological succession is the process by which the component species of a. Ecological restoration is a means of sustaining the diversity of life on Earth and re -establishing an ecologically healthy relationship between nature and culture.
- What is Ecological Restoration
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- The relationship between ecological restoration and the ecosystem services concept
Restoration often consists of initiating, assisting, or accelerating ecological successional processes, depending on the severity of the disturbance. However, in a system that has experienced a more severe disturbance such as in urban ecosystemsrestoration may require intensive efforts to recreate environmental conditions that favor natural successional processes.
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.Ecosystem Ecology: Links in the Chain - Crash Course Ecology #7
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. 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 wholethus monitoring and management are crucial for the long-term stability of ecosystems.
A fully functional ecosystem that is completely self-perpetuating is the ultimate goal of restorative efforts. We must understand what ecosystem properties influence others to restore desired functions and reach this goal. It assumes that species have similar niche requirements, so that community formation is a product of random fluctuations from a common species pool.
Population genetic processes that are important to consider in restored populations include founder effectsinbreeding depressionoutbreeding depressiongenetic driftand gene flow. Such processes can predict whether or not a species successfully establishes at a restoration site. The methodology used in this expanding urban area involved a broad suite of services, linking them to spatial data on biophysical variables e.
Both along the coastlines and inland, natural vegetation generally provides the highest level of soil retention, preventing it from eroding and filling storm water systems and rivers with sediments. It also improves grazing potential, reduces unsightly land scarring produced by soil erosion, and protects critical infiltration areas within the city that play an important role in absorbing large volumes of rain water.
However, they do not show how conflicts in land-use priority among current users can be resolved and do not address the potential or any kind of roadmap for restoration. This kind of distance analysis is particularly useful in that it reinforces the need to consider ecosystem services and stakeholders at the landscape scale when making management and restoration decisions, particularly for those regulating and supporting services that are exclusively delivered in situ, e.
Initially conceived as a scoping tool, this type of rapid assessment could serve as a platform to orient or modify existing restoration efforts with applications that go beyond urban areas. A similar approach was taken in a rural area of South Africa, in the context of the Grassland Programme, wherein five ecosystem services were mapped below-ground carbon storage, surface water supply, water flow regulation, soil accumulation, and soil retention and respective priority areas for individual services as well as the full suite of services were identified.
A significant overlap between ecosystem services priority areas and the already identified biodiversity conservation priority areas demonstrated the possibility of integrating multiple objectives in management and restoration decision making Egoh et al. Figueroa and Aronson also addressed this issue with regard to various goods and services flowing from protected areas, such as national parks, to poor landholders living nearby.
They considered these services in terms of economic costs and benefits to rural populations in developing countries, citing the case of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. They specifically addressed restoration as part of a revamped planning process based on the concept of social-ecological systems and suggested taking steps to make protected areas hubs of rural economies so that benefits would far outweigh costs to neighbors.
Could the above approaches be taken for restoration and restoring natural capital programs? Restoration policy must take on board this reality and recognize, through investment, that these communities and their activities are vital to the sustainable provision of ecosystem services.
A very promising ten-year-old restoration program in the subtropical thicket of central South Africa has recently been summarized by Mills et al. Thickets have been poorly recognized as providers of multiple ecosystem services, and of course as such, are especially vulnerable to degradation by communities and agroindustries alike. In Latin America, the Regional Integrated Silvo-pastoral Ecosystem Management Project Colombia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua is one example where an ecosystem services index has been successfully utilized in a payment-for-ecosystem services scheme.
Participants are paid for net increases in the index that aggregates values for biodiversity, provisioning services e.
The rationale behind this Global Environmental Facility—sponsored project is that agricultural and livestock producers view many important services as externalities or public goods and thus do not have the proper incentives to protect and restore them.
Finally, it is worth comparing two examples of how multiple ecosystem services are driving large-scale restoration programs in highly populated areas of poor rural people in China and sub-Saharan Africa.
In fact, both are restoration-of-natural-capital programs, in our understanding of that term. The first of these is a forest restoration and rehabilitation program known in China as the Grain-for-Green Program. In this case, agricultural land on slopes of greater than 25 degrees is being reforested to protect watersheds Liu et al. The areas being restored are expected to cover 30 million hectares of former croplands. Although the primary objective of the program is to provide watershed protection, much of the initial restoration was done using a small number of commercial tree species simply because they were more readily available, which often resulted in low survival rates.
Early results suggest there have been some improvements in watershed protection without a significant reduction in regional food production XuDeng et al. However, by using a wider variety of native species it may be possible to make the restoration process more effective and sustainable. Similar adjustments to restoration methodologies are called for in other large-scale restoration programs in China Liu et al. The second large-scale program we refer to is the so-called Great Green Wall stretching across the entire Sahel, the semiarid, highly degraded, and densely populated belt on the southern fringe of the Sahara desert.
Combined with seed bank and biogeographical knowledge about niches of the tree species, the practitioners and scientists in the Great Green Wall are working to incorporate motivated local communities in selected portions of these highly degraded and frequently drought-stricken regions within a coordinated network of long-term projects aimed at kick-starting the restoration of natural capital at local scales, in the name of ecosystem services enhancement to local people.
The approach taken combines the reintroduction of native trees and shrubs in a restoration framework with economic and ecological rehabilitation of traditional agroforestry systems via the use of nonnative trees in a simpler reforestation framework. Ultimately, the local communities must be convinced that there is a tangible benefit for them in terms of their livelihoods and well-being.
In many cases, it is difficult to implement restoration activities at a particular site to optimize livelihood benefits and, at the same time, generate short-term improvements in biodiversity and ecosystem health. However, it is possible to achieve a degree of both through incremental changes over time. Figure 3 presents an illustration of how this might work in practice using forest restoration as an example. If reforestation is carried out using traditional monoculture plantations of exotic species arrow 1this pathway generates financial benefits with only modest biodiversity gains.
In contrast, when using restoration methods that maximize diversity arrow 2fewer direct financial benefits to landowners are generated in the short-term. Protecting and facilitating forest regrowth arrow 3 generate improvements in both biodiversity and livelihoods, although the magnitude of the financial benefits depends on the population density of commercially or socially important species; these benefits can be enhanced by the enrichment of secondary forest with commercially attractive species arrow 4.
Restoration-of-natural-capital programs in landscapes where poverty is prevalent necessitates pursuing both objectives simultaneously. In many cases, it may be necessary to give initial priority to forms of reforestation that increase tangible economic benefits, such as multispecies woodlots arrow 5. In subsequent rotations, this balance might change over time moving to arrow 6 and later to arrow 7 by using a greater variety of species to develop, for example, the habitat for species conservation and increasing the range of ecosystem services provision.
Addressing problems at the landscape scale is critical, and there may be greater scope for achieving multiple objectives by using several of these options at different locations within the landscape mosaic Lamb et al.
Ultimately, the concept of ecosystem services can be of strategic value in efforts to collectively clarify long-term goals and achieve consensus and buy-in at the level of local communities, as well as with decision makers from various levels of government. In addition, another very high priority is monitoring and evaluating the ecosystem services that arise from assisted and spontaneous natural regeneration and active restoration Chazdon However, as Mills et al.
Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation REDD is an international fund- or credit-based mechanism for reducing carbon emissions and protecting forest ecosystems.
This is in part because of the failure to effectively demonstrate and communicate the value of the full suite of ecosystem services that result from restoration projects and programs Alexander and McInnes This failure is linked to and aggravated by other factors such as 1 market failures whereby some ecosystem services are considered public goods; 2 perverse incentives for unsustainable land and water management practices; 3 inequitable spatial and temporal distribution of costs and benefits i.
Given the depth and breadth of global changes causing shifts and realignments in both human communities and ecosystems, and given the urgency to address the plight of huge portions of humanity in rural areas, restoring natural capital provides a promising and viable approach, with emphasis given by planners to deciding which ecosystem services are needed where, as well as when and for whom.
The nature of the trade-offs required is likely to vary within and across landscapes, depending on which suite of ecosystem services is desired by which stakeholders in particular places and landscape units.
Especially when it comes to large-scale restoration and restoring-natural-capital programs, prescribing an experimental approach that has been called intelligent tinkering Murcia and Aronsonand references therein makes good sense. Economic activities and circumstances will also change while ecosystems develop in response to new management interventions. New policies and institutions will be needed to facilitate a pragmatic approach Lamband new sources of financing will have to be identified and mobilized, including those from the business community http: If accepted for publication, your response will be hyperlinked to the article.
To submit a response, follow this link. To read responses already accepted, follow this link. The benefits of wetland restoration. Ramsar Convention Secretariat, Gland, Switzerland. Restoration Ecology 19 6: Ecosystem restoration is now a global priority: Restoration Ecology 21 3: Pages in J. Island Press, Washington, D. Cost-effectiveness of dryland forest restoration evaluated by spatial analysis of ecosystem services.
Impact of multiple interacting financial incentives on land use change and the supply of ecosystem services.
Restoration of ecosystem services and biodiversity: Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology 41 4: On the need of legal frameworks for assessing restoration projects success: Restoration Ecology 23 6: Convention on Biological Diversity, Hyderabad, India.
Natural capital and sustainable development. Conservation Biology 6 1: Identifying cost-effective hotspots for restoring natural capital and enhancing landscape multifunctionality. Ecological Economics 68 3: Integrating the ecological and economic dimensions in biodiversity and ecosystem service valuation. Pages in K. The economics of ecosystems and biodiversity: Benefits of investing in ecosystem restoration.
Conservation Biology 27 6: Effects of the grain-for-green program on soil erosion in China. International Journal of Sediment Research 27 1: PLoS Biology 13 1: Exploring restoration options for habitats, species and ecosystem services in the European Union.
Journal of Applied Ecology 51 4: Identifying priority areas for ecosystem service management in South African grasslands. Journal of Environmental Management 92 6: Foundations of restoration ecology. New linkages for protected areas: Journal for Nature Conservation Natural capital and ecosystem services informing decisions: Broad-scale restoration of landscape function with timber, carbon and water investment.
Deliverable 3 b i: Thematic assessment on land degradation and restoration. Forest and landscape restoration. Tool boxes for an integrated ecological and environmental management. Regreening the bare hills: Restoration of degraded tropical forest landscapes. Biodiversity and ecosystem services: Conservation Biology 20 3: Ecosystems and human well-being: Prescribing innovation within a large-scale restoration programme in degraded subtropical thicket in South Africa.
Structural and functional loss in restored wetland ecosystems. PLoS Biology 10 1: Intelligent tinkering in ecological restoration. Restoration Ecology 22 3: Ecosystem consequences of biodiversity loss: Investing in ecological infrastructure. Pages in P.